Just in time for August: Peach Custard Tart

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that making this tart is a snap or anything. It’s not. Pate Sucrée is a pain and I’m never sure if I’ve got it right. That being said, even when the pastry comes out funny looking, it never seems to make a difference – the custard holds everything together beautifully. And to miss out on this Peach Tart at the height of the peach season in a state known for their “Holy Sh-t” peaches, well, that would just be wrong. So pull up your socks and get to work. This one is absolutely worth it.

In this tart, the peaches crisp up under a delicate cloak of sugar and underneath are smooth and sweetly-tart. If you make the tart the day you plan to eat it (you must – this is not a dessert to make ahead of time) the custard will be so softly, almost breathtakingly set, and still you’ll be able to make beautiful neat slices. The creamy filling is on the verge of cascading over the crisp crust, just barely holding together, voluptuous and satiny. I scented the custard with St. Germaine, that elderflower liqueur I’m always going on about. The elderflower only enhanced the perfume of the peach, there was no alcoholic tang – nothing aggressive or distracting. This tart shouldn’t have a grown-up edge. The peach is the star here and the ripe fruit flavor sings.

Last summer, I made a version with nectarines which I thought at the time was the pinnacle of all summer stone fruit desserts- I would never have believed there was a better way. And now this. Sigh. The world is a beautiful place. Full of surprises.

Pate Sucrée

Even though the pastry looks pocked and unevenly browned, this has never posed any noticeable problem

I have to credit In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley for this recipe – and SO many others. A truly excellent dessert resource. I never use anything else. Definitely this book is in my top three favorite cookbooks. And that includes all of them. Not just dessert!

Get all the ingredients measured out and in the freezer before you begin. You might even put the tart pan in there too.

  • (1) 11″loose bottom fluted tart pan
  • 1 7/8 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled for 10 minutes in the freezer
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten, reserving one of the whites (you might need one more yolk but don’t crack it yet)

Dried beans make great pie weights

  1. In the food processor, whirl the flour, salt and confectioners’ sugar for a few seconds with the steel blade.
  2. Toss the cold butter evenly over the top and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are about a 1/4″. Don’t over process.
  3. Add the lightly beaten egg yolks, and pulse 2 or 3 more times. The mixture should look slightly moist and if you squeeze it, it should hold together in a clump. If it seems very dry and isn’t holding together, add one more lightly beaten egg yolk to the dough, pulsing briefly to distribute. (I had to add one last time – don’t let this make you feel like a failure.)
  4. Dump the dough into the tart pan and with lightly floured fingers press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You will have extra dough. The top of the dough ought to line up with the top edge of the pan and it should be no less than 1/4″ thick. The dough will shrink slightly as it bakes.
  5. Wrap the tart pan in plastic wrap and freeze for an hour, or let it rest in the refrigerator for 3-24 hours. Do not skip this crucial step. The dough needs to be chilled and well rested before it goes in the oven.
  6. Set the oven to 375.
  7. Prick the bottom of the tart shell about 20 times with the tines of a fork. I press my fingers against the dough when I pull the fork out or it crumbles.
  8. Line the bottom of the tart pan with parchment. Unintentionally, I bought silicone coated parchment last time, and I am glad. You can use regular old parchment or foil, but there is a danger of it sticking to the pastry when you remove it part way through the baking process. Top the parchment or foil with pie weights if you have them or do what I do: keep a stash of dried beans for the purpose.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the pastry are becoming golden and the pastry bottom is looking cooked and a little dry.
  10. Carefully remove the parchment or foil and weights, and bake for another 10 minutes, until lightly browned all over.
  11. Set the oven to 325.
  12. Cool tart pastry on a rack for 15 minutes.
  13. Brush the tart with the reserved beaten egg white and bake for 3-5 minutes – just until the pastry looks dry.

Peach Custard Tart

  • (1) Pate Sucrée tart crust
  • 3-4 ripe peaches
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 2 tbsp for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour (not a typo – you need very little flour here)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla + 2 tbsp St. Germaine (or you could just use the seeds from one vanilla bean or barring that, 2 tsp regular old vanilla – this tart will be amazing no matter what)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325
  2. Wash and dry the peaches and peel them with a swivel vegetable peeler – the serrated ones for soft fruits work very very well! Halve the peaches by cutting all the way around, using the little natural seam as your guide. Gently twist the two sides to pull them apart and remove the stone in the center. Cut each half into 8 wedges. Arrange the sliced fruit in concentric circles around the tart crust, starting at the outer edge. Be prudent and don’t over fill. Leave room for the custard!
  3. Set tart pan on a rimmed cookie sheet. This will make it easier to put into the oven without spilling.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly add the 1/2 cup of sugar, whisking as you go. Sift the flour over the eggs and sugar, and whisk again until very smooth. Add the cream and whisk some more – as you can see, smoothness is the idea here. Stir in the vanilla and St. Germaine or whatever flavoring you have chosen. Pour the custard over the peaches in the tart shell. Sprinkle evenly with the 2 tbsp of sugar.
  5. Bake the tart for 35-45 minutes, or until the custard in the middle is barely set – test by lightly touching the center with your finger. Place the tart pan on a wire rack on the counter until cool – at least 2 1/2 hours.
  6. Don’t count on having any leftovers for breakfast. You’re sure to be disappointed!

This Peach Tart was so delicious, I was sort of devastated when it was gone so quickly. Then I thought about it for a minute. I will just make another next weekend. Life, and peach season, is too short not to.

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