The Tarte Tatin, named after the Tatin sisters, who served the dish in their tavern in the Loire Valley, is a classic French dessert using apples. This reinterpretation uses peaches, which are in season during the summer, paired with preserved ginger. This easy yet satisfying dessert always pleases, and can be made without much fuss. The key is caramelizing the sugar to just the right point.
6 ripe peaches
½ cup castor sugar
4 tablespoons sweet cream butter, unsalted
3 tablespoons preserved ginger, chopped
For the pâte brisée (pie crust):
1¼ cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter (one stick cut into small pieces)
2-4 tablespoons ice water, plus extra if needed
1 egg, slightly beaten
10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet (oven safe)
Prepare the pie crust:
Mix the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix well. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse in short bursts to cut the flour and the butter together. The mixture should resemble crumbs. Do not overmix. Slowly drizzle in ice water a little at a time, and process just until the mixture comes together into a ball. If it’s a little dry, add just a splash more of the ice water, being careful not to add too much. The mixture should just hold its shape. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or freeze for 10.
Prepare the peach filling:
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Boil a pot of water on the stovetop, and score a small “x” on the bottom of each peach and boil for about 10 seconds, then refresh in cold water. The peels should come off rather easily. Cut each peach in half and remove the stones.
Sprinkle the sugar in the bottom of a 10-inch ovenproof skillet and heat over medium heat until it begins to caramelize. Shake the pan back and forth a little if necessary, but do not stir. When the sugar turns a dark caramel color, remove it from the heat and dot with 2 tablespoons of the butter and half the chopped preserved ginger.
[Chef’s Note: Sugar will go from caramel to burnt in a split second, so it is important to watch it very carefully. Once it starts to brown, be ready to take it off the heat, and be careful not to burn yourself. Sugar burns are the most painful.]
Place the peaches cut-side up on top of the caramel. Be sure to pack them together as tightly as possible. Sprinkle with the remaining ginger and tuck a few pieces of the ginger in the gaps between the peaches. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and dot over the peaches. Return the pan to the stove and cook over low heat while you roll out the pastry dough.
Sprinkle a clean countertop with a little flour and roll out the pâte brisée from the center outward, rotating occasionally, until the dough is about 11 inches in diameter (a little larger than your skillet) and ¼-inch thick. Use a little more flour, as necessary, if the dough becomes sticky.
Lay the pie crust over the peaches and tuck the edges into the sides of the pan. Brush lightly with the egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry dough is well browned and flaky.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the stovetop for about 5 minutes.
Place a large serving plate over the skillet and invert onto the plate. The caramel will drip over the top of the peaches. Serve with ice cream or whipped heavy cream.
This recipe is infinitely variable. You can use plums, pears, and of course the classic apples. You may also use puff pastry or phyllo dough in this dish.
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya