Friday, August 16, 2013

Nectarine Crumb Tart

If you’re wondering what the difference is between a peach and a nectarine, it’s fairly superficial.  Peaches have fuzzy skins and nectarines have smooth ones.  Nectarines are also usually slightly smaller and sweeter.  But in terms of nutrition, nectarines provide twice the amount of vitamin A, a bit more vitamin C and a whole lot more potassium.

Red Lion nectarines, cultivated in California in the late 1980s, are considered among the best. They stay on the tree longer, so they are plump and juicy.  When selecting nectarines, look for a deep red blush but more importantly, they should have a golden orange glow with no green areas around the stem.  Store them at room temperature and they will continue to ripen.

This tart is a good showcase for ripe nectarines because there isn’t much to get in the way of their full flavor.  There’s a simple crust and a toasted crumb topping, just enough to sweeten each slice.  And of course you can substitute peaches!

Bench notes:
- I prefer room temperature fruit but if you prefer chilled, don't refrigerate a peach or nectarine until it's fully ripe or its flavor will be stunted and the texture may become mealy.
- This pastry dough comes together almost instantly.  Check it as you go to be sure you're not overmixing.  It's done when the dough looks a little bit like small curd cottage cheese.  When you gather it together to wrap, it smoothes out.
- The pastry dough can be made 1 - 2 days ahead and chilled.  Any longer than that and it starts to discolor and turn grey.
- The crumble can also be made and refrigerated 1 – 2 days ahead.
- Add a small handful of sliced almonds or finely chopped walnuts to the crumb topping flour mixture if you’d like more flavor and texture.
- Serve with sweetened whipped cream flavored with vanilla or almond extract or some good kirsch.
- If you love nectarines, try this Almond Dacquoise with Nectarines and Cream.

Nectarine Crumb Tart
Serves 6 - 8

Pastry Dough
1 cup (5 oz) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 oz (6 tablespoons) cold butter
1/4 cup (2 oz) very cold water

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) flour                         
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (17 grams) granulated sugar                          
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (17 grams) dark brown sugar                      
pinch salt                 
1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) butter, melted                         

4 nectarines
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (6 grams) cornstarch

To prepare the pastry dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process to combine.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces, add to the flour mixture and process for 5 seconds.  Add the water and pulse about 15 times. The dough will not look like a smooth dough but should look lumpy like cottage cheese.  Gather the dough and place on a piece of plastic wrap.  Gently press into a flattened rectangle and wrap tightly.  Chill the dough at least 30 minutes or overnight.

For the crumb topping, combine the flour, both sugars and salt in a bowl.  Melt the butter and add.  Use a fork to stir until the mixture clumps that hold together when pressed.  Using your fingers, pinch the mixture to form bits and pieces.   Chill until ready to use.

When you’re ready to roll out the dough, remove from the refrigerator and rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or work surface for a few minutes so it can soften just a bit to prevent cracking.  Roll the dough out to about a 12" square and 1/8" thickness, gently lifting and moving the dough after each roll and keeping it lightly floured as needed.  When you have the desired size, brush off any excess flour.  Fold it in half and then again in half.  Center the folded corner of the dough in a 9" square tart pan.  Unfold it and work it into the corners, leaving an overhang on all four sides.  Chill while you prepare the fruit.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the nectarines in slices and remove the pit.  Place the slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice.  Combine the sugar and cornstarch and toss with the fruit to distribute evenly.

When the oven is ready, fill the tart shell with the fruit.  Sprinkle with the crumb topping.  Fold the sides over to form a border.  Brush the border of the dough with melted butter and dust with a light sprinkle of sugar.  

Bake until the dough and topping are browned and the fruit is bubbling, about 40 – 50 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool.



Anonymous said...

Yum, my favorite summer fruit!

Kate said...

Looks and sounds delicious, :ps!
Glad your blog originates from CA.
Makes the summer fruit posts last longer.
They're my favorites amongst your great repertoire!

pastry studio said...

Thanks, Kate! The fruit this season has been out of this world. Today I bought the BEST figs evah! And the peaches are mind-blowing. Sorry to see cherries on the wane.

But sometimes I forget the whole world doesn't have all this great fruit during this season. So to all my lovely other regional readers, I'll get back to chocolate and other things soon, promise.

Elly McCausland said...

Making this tomorrow night. Having been a fan of your blog for ages, this is such a 'you' recipe! I love it - usually never cook with nectarines as they're so good raw, but these photos have inspired me!

pastry studio said...

Thanks, Elly. And thanks for inspiring me with your Fig Black Currant and Oatmeal Tart:

Bryan said...

This was really fun to put together.
For the first attempt, I finally used my processor to make the dough.
Normally, I love cutting-in butter by hand, but I tried my machine's shorter plastic dough blade for kicks. Okay, I guess.
I used the last of this season's Green Gages. Must say, damned tasty.
The crumb top rules.

Using the metal blade on the second attempt was waaay quicker.
Quartered the dough into mini 4" shells and used perfectly red-blushed nectarines which were nice and tart and delicious.
Vanilla bean was all it needed to round out the flavor a bit.

Did I mention the crumb top rules?

pastry studio said...

Hiya, Bryan! I love the old fashioned hands-in-the-flour process but sometimes I think maybe I might be in the minority. So I started using my food processor and I found if you're careful not to over mix, you can still get an excellent dough.

A vanilla bean is always a welcome addition!