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.