This is the 12th attempt at writing this post. In the time between my last post and this one, I have just about dug myself out of an avalanche of uniforms, lunch boxes, traffic nightmares, homework, tantrums and potty training. I also, managed to make a gloriously delicious Peach Tart. Which I then knocked over and it went splat on the ground. There are some weeks, never mind days, when you really don’t know which direction you’re supposed to be going in. I know my reasons for moaning sound incredibly petty, but there you have it. Grin and bear it, is the current motto.
By some miracle of providence, I got photos of the tart before my ample hip decided to knock the board it was on. It managed to flip over onto the baking sheet, rather than the floor tiles which ensured that it was still safe to eat. The pastry was mostly intact even after it’s Cirque du Soleil act, so that’s a testament to the strength of the recipe. I know peaches are generally out of season by now, but they seem to be lining the Doha supermarket shelves still and I am not complaining. If autumn has well and truly grazed your cheeks with a chilled kiss, then by all means, substitute with pears, plums or apple. Consider cinnamon, star anise, orange or lemon zest or coconut for flavour partners. The mood you want for this is as varied as the colours of autumn leaves.
Nigella’s mince pie pastry is the one I used here. It’s a solid, dependable recipe for me and produces an easy going, forgiving pastry. Light, flaky, puffy but able to stand up to the filling, it’s my go to sweet tart pastry recipe. The use of chilled orange juice as the binding liquid keeps the pastry tender, the use of shortening ensures flakiness and the freezing of fats and flour makes all the difference to the consistency, which is so important, particularly in a humid and hot environment like Doha. Now don’t scrunch your nose at the mention of shortening. The one I used was Earth Nature’s natural shortening, which doesn’t contain hydrogenated fats. Granted, that’s not the only reason that makes shortening undesirable, but it does give those incredible flaky layers. You could however, use butter for the entire fat amounts specified. I don’t mind.
Sliced peaches, skin on (seriously, after the week I had, life was definitely far too short to skin a peach) are tossed with some cornflour and sugar and then add spices of your choice. I left it without, simply because I couldn’t be bothered to walk to the pantry and I wanted to add toasted coconut flakes at the end. Use peaches, or indeed any fruit, that’s ripe but firm. If they are well past, they will give out a lot more liquid and you risk having soggy pastry. If that’s all you have, use a slotted spoon to drain out the tossed fruit before placing on your rolled pastry.
I loved how this turned out. More than that I really enjoyed the process. When feeling out of control, I head to the kitchen to create something that demands more of my attention, taking my mind of other important pressing affairs; or so they seem. At that moment, nothing matters, but flaky, tender pastry. And when you see the result of those efforts come out of the oven, puffed and golden, fruit glistening with juice, annoyances that drove you to the stove seem to become manageable away from it.
Until you knock the damn thing over.
Then, you start again.
Until I get my head round that, there is always a time for a peach.