Our family loves fresh peaches, and we eagerly await the all-too-short fresh peach season here in Maine. A fruit native to China that migrated to New England via Persia, the peach tree needs some fairly specific climatic conditions to prosper; primarily a dry temperate climate with chilling (as in the winter.) Just like Goldilocks, peach trees don’t like it too hot or too cold, but just right.
When native Maine peaches start to ripe, I’m always eager to trial a new dish; peach salsa with bright red pepper and green flecks of cilantro, pink-tinged peach muffins spiked with ginger, rosy grilled peaches with fish. The sweet, melt-in-your mouth flavor of ripe peaches is one of nature’s perfect gifts.
The recipe for Peach Upside Down Tart was inspired by the recipe for Tarte Tatin; the infamous French apple upside-down tart. Created by two sisters (named Tatin) of the Loire Valley, this classic dessert is prepared by covering the bottom of a shallow dish with butter and sugar, then apples, and finally a pastry crust. While baking, the apples become caramelized in the sugar and butter, and when inverted, the tart is a golden, delicious, caramel delight.
While there are many variations of Tarte Tatin recipes, I chose to adapt this one because the ingredients were so simple: peaches, butter, sugar and frozen puff pastry.
Peeling the peaches requires cooking them briefly in boiling water, then cooling the skin in an ice-water bath. Once cooked, the skin slips off the fruit. Sliced in half and then pitted, the peaches are arranged in a shallow pan on top of sugar and butter and slowly baked.
After the baked peaches are cooled, the top is lined with puff pastry, and the tart is slowly baked again. Once cooled, the tart in inverted upon a platter and served.
My Peach Upside Down Tart was nice and sweet, with plenty of peach flavor. But I was disappointed that the sugars did not caramelize as much as with apples, and the juices were too runny. This would be a fun dessert for a crowd, produced hot and fragrant from the oven, cooled, inverted and served with whipped cream or ice cream.
PEACH UPSIDE DOWN TART
- 4 pounds fresh peaches about 12 medium
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ pounds puff pastry purchase in frozen section of supermarket
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and generously butter a 10-inch cake pan
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop the peaches in the boiling water and poach for 60 – 90 seconds, until the skin just starts to tear. Remove each peach to a bowl of ice water. Allow the peach to cool in the water, and then slip off the skins. Cut each peach in half vertically, remove the pit, and set peaches aside.
- Thinly slice the butter and layer on the bottom of the cake pan. Sprinkle with the sugar.
- Stand the peaches up, fitting them tightly into the cake pan. Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and caramel, about 90 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2 hours or as long as overnight.
- Roll out the puff pastry and cut a 10-inch circle. Drape it over the fruit, tucking in the edges. Place the tart on a sheet pan to catch drips and bake in a preheated 300-degree oven for about 90 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool and set up. To serve, invert on a plate and cut into slices.