In his Love Song, J. Alfred Prufrock wonders “do I dare to eat a peach?” and I have to say, I see his point. It’s an act of hope over experience, so often, a flirtation with bitter disappointment.
I recently discovered as fact something that I had long suspected; peaches are scientifically unreliable ripeners. Once picked, capriciously, they may or may not ripen. As with any fancy Southern Lady, you might hope for yielding sweetness, but most often get a sour slap in the mouth. There are no guarantees.
Essentially the peach that you buy is the peach that you get. The ideal fruit should be fragrant. It should yield to a gentle touch. And if you’re lucky enough to find a perfect specimen, might I suggest that you run yourself a bath, sit in it and get to slurping, juice running down your arm, until you’ve sucked every last drop of scented sweet nectar off the stone. But most peaches are going to take a little bit more work.
Peach and Bourbon Tart (serves 4 – 6)
1 sheet of defrosted puff pastry 1 cup of ricotta (or thereabouts) 4 – 6 peaches (just over a pound, which will in turn make 2 generous cups of peach slices) 2 – 4 tbsp light brown sugar for the peaches and ½ tbsp for the base 1 tbsp bourbon for the peaches and ½ tbsp for the base 1 tbsp butter Vanilla ice cream to serve
- Lay the pastry sheet onto some parchment and roll out to get rid of the creases. Score a border around the edge and prick the pastry in the middle with a fork.
- Peel and slice the peaches
- Toss the peach slices with 1 tbsp of bourbon and 2 – 4 tbsp light brown sugar (depending on how sweet the peaches are already, and how sweet you like things to taste). Leave to marinate for a few minutes
- Mix the ricotta with ½ tbsp of the bourbon and ½ tbsp of brown sugar. Spread it over the pastry inside the border
- Tumble the peaches on top and dot with the butter
- Put the tart onto a tray and into a pre-heated oven and let it cook for 20 – 25 mins. If your oven is a bit old and unreliable, like mine, turn the tart around half way through cooking in case one bit of oven is hotter than another and the tart cooks unevenly (i.e. one part raw, one part ash, as in my oven).
- Once cooked, the peaches should be caramelized and bubbling.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream
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