A friend recently told me she appreciated that I have helped her feel more comfortable experimenting and making substitutions in the kitchen. What a great compliment! As much as I measure carefully when creating something for this column, so that I can write up my recipes with as much specificity as possible, I also understand the reality for most people on an average day. Everyone wants to eat food that tastes good, yet often we are too busy to devote lots of time to planning, shopping, organizing, prepping and cooking. Phew! It makes me tired just writing about it.
We are also (still) dealing with the realities of life during a pandemic. I know for me, I have improvised and made substitutions more often than I might have if life were not burdened with another layer of complexity.
There is a time and a place for following a recipe to the letter. There’s a time and a place for making everything from scratch. And there are also great products on the market to offer shortcuts. This tart utilizes one — store-bought pie crust.
If you feel like making your own pie crust, that will work. If you want to make a real French tart crust, go ahead! But a store-bought pie crust will work fine. Most store-bought products include two crusts, but you’ll only need one here — save the other for another tart! When I made this recipe most recently, as seen in the photo, I used a tart pan with a removable bottom. I’ve also made it plenty of times in a standard pie plate, and it works beautifully.
Will it taste the same as a tart from a fancy French bakery? Of course not. Will it still be a wonderful, delicious treat? Absolutely! And what better way to enjoy the fresh seasonal fruit of summer, with its light custard and fruit filling (peaches here, or try something different), perfect for a warm summer evening!
SUMMER FRUIT TART
1 single pie crust, homemade or store-bought, defrosted (if frozen) according to package directions
3 fresh peaches or other fruit of choice
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon extract of choice, e.g., vanilla, almond, Fiori di Sicilia (extract of vanilla, citrus and flower essences)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a half sheet pan with foil in case of drips. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat.
Roll out your pie crust or unroll one store-bought crust. Line a tart pan with a removable bottom or a pie plate with the crust, pressing it up the sides. (You can even use a sheet of puff pastry, although you may need to roll it out to make it big enough to fit.) Place in the refrigerator to stay cold while you prepare the filling.
Cut a shallow ‘X’ into the bottom of each peach. Place in the boiling water for only 1 minute. Remove immediately to a cutting board and allow to cool for a minute or two. The skin will have loosened and you should be able to grab a piece of skin from the corner of each cut and pull it off. Cut each peach into 8 to 10 wedges, removing the pit.
Take the crust from the refrigerator, place on the foil-lined half sheet pan, and arrange the peach wedges in concentric circles on the bottom. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have more pieces of peach than you need. If so, enjoy the snack!
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, sugar, and extract of choice until well combined. Pour the custard mixture into the pie pan over the peaches. Some pieces will be covered, some will stick out over the surface of the custard.
Carefully place the foil-lined pan with the tart into the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the custard is set and beginning to brown. Allow to cool at least for 30 minutes before serving. Leftovers should be kept in the refrigerator, and brought to room temperature before eating.