The weather has brightened a little – I have seen the sun on more than one occasion this week! Maybe that’s why I started thinking about summery flavours. It’s a good few months until peaches are in season but I do love a tinned peach – definitely the queen of tinned fruits!
The almond sponge might be called a frangipane in some circles (I’m never entirely sure when almond sponge becomes frangipane – perhaps it depends on the price the restaurant wishes to charge for the dessert?); it’s densely textured and rich with almond flavour. It has that almost oily moistness that sponges do when they’re heavy with almond – OK, I know that's possibly not the most appetising description but I'm sure you'll know what I mean! It ages wonderfully too, tasting better each day you can bear to leave it after baking!
The pastry contains virtually no sugar and it’s dry biscuity texture works really well against the rich sponge and juicy soft fruit. Indeed, this tart could be topped with many different fruits – I think pears, plums, raspberries or cherries would work particularly well.
I think this is the most professional I’ve ever rolled my pastry out and lined a tin...
...and it looked really nice after baking too:
The jam glaze on top is worth doing as it creates a professional looking finish – one tip I would offer is to add the jam glaze on the day of serving; I did mine the day before and it got absorbed!
I never thought I’d find peach jam but found it in Panzer’s, a fascinatingly well-stocked grocery/deli shop in the St John’s Wood area of London. The shop also has a good selection of US baking goods although I was disappointed that they didn’t have cake flour. I bought a bottle of date syrup (amongst other things) which you can apparently use in anything you’d usually use treacle/golden syrup in...looking forward to trying that!
This tart was incredibly popular – everybody loved it and started playing around for ideas of how it could be adapted to make different versions. It all got eaten in record quick time (don’t worry Mr CC – I have saved you a “generous” slice!)
For the pastry:
175g plain flour
85g unsalted butter, cold
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
For the filling:
140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
140g ground almonds
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 cans of sliced peaches (or 3 fresh peaches slice)
Optional: peach or apricot jam to glaze
To serve: thick cream
Start by making the pastry: place the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and blitz together.
Keep the processor running and add the egg yolks and water, blitzing until the dough just starts to come together.
(If you prefer to make the pastry by hand rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs, stir in the flour, then the egg yolks and water)
Bring the dough together and form into a fat disc before wrapping in clingfilm and refrigerating for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/fan oven 180˚C/350˚F/Gas mark 6.
Have ready a 23cm loose bottomed flan tin – no need to grease it if it’s loose bottomed.
Roll the pastry out between two sheets of clingfilm (this will stop the need to add extra flour) and use to line the tin; leave the spare pastry overhanging.
Line with baking paper and baking beans and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the paper and beans and prick the base with a fork.
Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes (or until it looks golden, firm and biscuity).
Leave on a cooling rack.
Now make the filling: beat together the butter and sugar until it’s pale and smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, if it looks like it might curdle add some of the flour.
Stir in the almonds, flour and, if using, the extract.
Spoon into the cooked pastry case and level the surface.
Arrange the peach slices on the top – I went for concentric circles as I think it looks pretty and professional.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until the almond sponge is cooked – test with a skewer, the same way you would for a cake. If the skewer comes out clean it’s ready.
Incidentally, don’t panic that the pastry turns a much darker brown that pastry normally does – it’s a dry, biscuity pastry and the colour doesn’t affect the taste.
Leave to cool, in the tin, on a wire rack. This dish is best made the day before as it gives the almond time to develop and release its oil and flavour into the sponge!
Cut away the excess pastry that is overhanging the tart tin. This is a rather tasty bonus for the cook!
If you wish, you can brush melted apricot or peach jam over the top of the cooled tart – this will give it the professional patisserie glazed finish.
Serve the tart at room temperature with thick cream.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.