Most of the time I buy fresh produce based on what looks good — and then I decide what to prepare with it at home. I really do feel like it’s the best way to shop and eat because more often than not the things you come home with are the freshest, the most in season, the most delicious ingredients to start out with. Right now the tomatoes look good, the firm, small, ribbed zucchini with bright yellow blooms still attached do too, and the blushing stone fruit is hard to walk past — we have been waiting weeks for the good ones, the ones that easily perfume a room, to appear. Nothing screams summer more than these.
I came home from a market trip recently with a basket of peaches, still undecided about what to do with them — eat them on their own, turn them into gelato (I was contemplating adding some apricot pits for their uniquely almond-like flavour) or bake them, Piemonte style, stuffed with amaretti biscuits (what is it about peaches and bitter almond that makes them such a good pair?). This last one is one of my absolute favourite summer recipes, its only downfall is having to turn the oven on in the heat but I would do it for these! But I was also in the mood for some kind of crostata, a tart or pie, and it became quite clear to me that what I needed to do was put the stuffed peaches recipe into a pastry crust and call it a day.
I made my favourite short crust pastry dough — it is based on one of Pellegrino Artusi’s century old pastry crust recipes — but instead of regular flour with a rather rustic stone-ground organic farro flour that I thought would lend a nice, almost nutty flavour to the tart. I left out any sugar but feel free to add about 50 grams of sugar to it if you prefer a touch more sweetness. I topped it with the peach “stuffing”, a mixture of crushed amaretti biscuits, egg and a couple spoons of sugar, followed by peach slices. It cooks in less time than the stuffed peaches too, so anyone who is impatient or just doesn’t want the oven on for too long will be happy.
Peach and amaretti tart
Note: If using regular flour for this you will only need one whole egg and one yolk. Stone-ground, organic flours are not all equal so take the quanto basta approach — use as much or as little flour as you need. If you can’t get amaretti biscuits, you can use savoiardi (lady fingers) but you’ll miss the bitter almond flavour, so in that case you may like to add a splash of amaretto liqueur or even almond essence.
125 grams cold butter
225 grams farro (spelt) flour (see note)
zest of 1 lemon
about 25-30 amaretti biscuits, crushed
2 tablespoons white or raw sugar
3-4 peaches, sliced
Ice cream, to serve
To make the pastry, chop the butter into cubes and place in a bowl with the flour. Rub together until you have a mixture that looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the eggs (leave out one egg white if using all purpose flour), beaten, and the zest and combine until you have a smooth dough. If too dry, add a spoonful of ice water until it comes together, if too wet, add a little more flour. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes then roll out to 2-3mm thickness and line a tart tin. Prick the base with the tines of a fork all over and place in fridge until needed.
Combine the crushed amaretti with the egg and sugar and pour this mixture over the pastry base. Cover with peach slices then bake in a ready oven at 180C for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp and the peaches are wrinkled, soft and a bit oozy. Let cool to room temperature (truth be told, I even like this cold-from-the-fridge on hot days) and serve in slices with a blob of ice cream.