If you buy a bunch of peaches, and they all happen to ripen at the same time, what can you do? No need to panic. The tried and true solution to such a dilemma (aside from making jam) is to bake something special with the extra peaches. You can bake a fruit pie, tart, crostada, crumble, crisp, cobbler, buckle, or cake. I wanted to try a French peach tart with frangipane, or almond pastry cream. The name is linked to a 16th century Italian nobleman, Marquis Muzio Frangipani, who invented scented gloves of all things! French pastry chefs took advantage of the name to describe a pastry cream flavored with almonds.
The French-style peach frangipane tart would typically use for the crust a sweet shortcrust pastry, pâte sucrée. For my peach frangipane tart, I wanted to use a quick, Polish-style crust that is softer and cakier instead, which is perfect for absorbing extra juices from the fruit. And to make it even more attractive, this version is super easy to make–just mix the crust ingredients together for a few seconds in a mixer and press the crust into the pan. No need to wait for the dough to chill before using, and no need to roll out the dough. Of course, you can if you want to, but I’ve found that the results were not significantly improved by the added steps. However, you must pre-bake the crust. For this step, blind-baking doesn’t improve the results either.
Below is the recipe, followed by step-by-step instructions with photographs. Join me again after the recipe!
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the crust ingredients by first mixing together all the dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2/3 cup sugar, and the zest of half a lemon (optional).
Cut the butter into tablespoon-size segments.
Using an electric mixer, mix together 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter at room temperature (but not too soft), one egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and the dry ingredients.
Mix for about 20 seconds.
Form the dough into a ball.
Place the dough into a 10 or 11 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Press the dough up to the side in an even layer.
Press some of the dough up the sides of the pan, and then even out the bottom so there are no holes or spots where the dough is too thin or thick.
Prick the bottom with the tines of a fork.
Bake the crust for 20- 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let completely cool in the pan. This crust doesn’t have too much of a lip, but it still fits the frangipane, so don’t worry.
Begin making the frangipane by creaming one stick of butter (4 ounces, or 8 tablespoons) with 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then mix in one egg. Mix until fully incorporated.
Then repeat with the second egg.
By hand, using a spatula, mix in the almond flour, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt.
Spread the frangipane into the crust.
Set aside and prepare the fruit. To make it easier to peel the peaches, pour boiling water over the peaches. Drain after a few seconds.
Peel and cut the peaches in half to take the pits out.
Cut each peach half into about six slices.
Arrange the peaches on top of the frangipane, starting from the center with the smallest pieces. Create rows from the center to the outer edge (like a flower). Partially insert each slice into the frangipane so that the outer edge of the slice faces upward at a slight angle. Form a row down the middle of the tart. Then start another row from the center of the first row.
Repeat on the other side to form an “X.”
Arrange the remaining slices to fill the rest of the tart. Three large or four medium peaches generally sufficiently fill the entire tart.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown across the entire top and not just the edges. The frangipane will be springy to the touch. Note that the edges brown faster than the center, so you might need to cover the outer portions of the tart with strips of aluminum foil if they turn golden brown before the center does. The edges of my tart below might qualify as slightly too brown, but it didn’t taste too brown!
Dust with confectioners sugar after the tart has cooled for a few minutes. The tart is ready to serve now or cooled to room temperature.
Here is a side view of a slice.
You can also brush the top of the tart with 2-3 tablespoons of warmed apricot jam. Stir the jam before brushing to remove clumps and to make it is easier to work with.
The combination of flavors and textures from the peaches, creamy frangipane, and sweet crust make this tart divine. Why don’t you try a slice?!