A tourte – which is what’s pictured above (it’s the one from Baking Chez Moi) – is a covered tart and about as close as the French come to a pie. Here the crusts are made from a double-batch of my favorite Sweet Tart Dough. (Here’s the recipe for the dough – just remember to double the recipe for this tourte and to roll it out rather than pat it into the pan; see recipe.) It’s a fail-proof crust with great flavor and a beautiful texture – it walks the delicate line between flaky and crisp.
And the filling is simple to make, even if it’s complex in taste and fragrance. What makes it extraordinary is the brown butter. The simple act of boiling butter until it colors is enough to produce nut and caramel flavors and aromas that are splendid with peaches.
Here’s what I ended up baking even thought I set out to make the tourte.
And here’s the little backstory … Friends were coming for dinner and my plan had been to serve them ice cream and cookies I’d already made and frozen, when I was waylaid by the scent of peaches in the market. I bought the peaches – natch – and when I got home and discovered that, as usual, I was short of time to pull everything together. I had an unbaked crust in the freezer (I try to keep at least one ready-to-go crust in there at all times) and, while I didn’t have time to make and roll out another crust, I had plenty of time to make streusel. And that’s how the Brown Butter-Peach and Crumb Tart was born.
Not unexpectedly, the tart had a short life. It came out of the oven, cooled down a bit and was devoured … gleefully.
When you’ve got more time than I had, make the tourte – it’s doubly good.
Brown Butter Peach Tourte
From Baking Chez Moi
Brown butter. Peach. Tourte. Each of these words makes me happy; together they describe one of my favorite desserts: a covered tart made with sweet dough, filled with peaches glistening in butter that’s been simmered until it turns fragrant, golden brown and almost caramel flavored. The fact that the top crust melts just a little, following the contours of the peach filling and creating an undulating sugar-sparkled cover for the fruit, only adds to the tourte’s temptations.
Heads up: You need good peaches for this tourte. There’s only a little sugar, a little flour, some vanilla and a squirt of lemon juice, so all you get are the essentials: peach, butter and crust.
Makes 8 servings
- For the filling
- 2 pounds (907 grams) ripe but firm peaches
- 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces; 43 grams) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Tiny pinch of fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or a drop of pure almond extract)
- Juice of ¼ lemon (or to taste)
Sugar, for dusting (sanding sugar, if you’d prefer)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
To make the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice cubes and cold water nearby.
Cut a small X in the base of each peach. Drop a few peaches at a time into the boiling water, leave them there for 30 seconds and then lift them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. If you’ve got some hard-to-peel peaches, you can boil them for a few seconds more or just remove the remaining skin with a paring knife.
Dry the peaches, cut them in half, remove the pits and cut each peach into about a dozen chunks. If the peaches are small, cut fewer chunks; the tourte is best when the pieces are about an inch on a side. Put the peaches in a bowl.
Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt and then bubble. Stay close to the butter as it boils, and when it reaches a light caramel color, pull the pan from the heat. You may see some small dark brown spots on the bottom of the pan, and that’s fine; for sure you’ll catch the whiff of warm nuts. Wait a minute or two, then pour the butter over the peaches. Add the sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and gently stir everything together. Finish with the lemon juice, tasting as you go. I prefer the juice to be a background flavor, but you might want it to be more prominent, and, of course, the amount will depend on the sweetness of your fruit.
To assemble the tourte: Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet. Give the filling another stir and scrape it into the tart shell, smoothing the top. You should have just enough filling to come level with the edges of the crust.
Remove the circle of dough from the refrigerator and let it rest for a couple of minutes, just until it’s soft enough to maneuver without cracking. Brush the edges of the tart shell with water, then position the circle of dough over the crust. Press the rim of the tourte with your fingers to glue the two pieces together and then, pressing on the rim as you go, cut the top circle even with the edges of the pan.
Use a knife, the wide end of a piping tip or a small cookie cutter to remove a circle of dough from the center of the tourte—this is your steam vent. Brush the surface of the tourte lightly with cold water and sprinkle it generously with sugar.
Bake the tourte for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is deeply golden brown and, most important, the butter is bubbling. If you think the crust is browning too quickly—the thick rim has a tendency to get dark—cover the tourte lightly with a foil tent. Transfer the tourte, still on its baking sheet, to a rack and allow it to cool until it’s only just warm or at room temperature before serving. As it cools, the buttery syrup will be reabsorbed by the peaches, which is just what you want—so don’t be impatient.
Serving: Whatever you serve with the tourte—vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (I like the tang of yogurt with the sweet peaches), softly whipped cream or even more softly whipped crème fraîche—don’t let it cover the top of the tourte – it’s too pretty to hide.
Storing: You can partially bake the bottom crust up to 8 hours ahead and you can have the top crust rolled out and ready to go ahead of time, but the filling shouldn’t be prepared ahead. The baked tourte is really best served that day. If you’ve got leftovers, refrigerate them. The crust will lose its delicateness, but the tourte will still be satisfying.