I hope you had a lovely Easter break. Giulio and I went on adventure to see my father’s birthplace in the mountains of Northern Italy. It was so amazing to find myself in the town he left as a baby more than 60 years ago. To my surprise, it wasn’t even a town! It was a handful of houses and tiny little cemetery, where I managed find my great grandmother, who passed away only a few years after my grandparents immigrated.
It was a sad, but ultimately satisfying journey to discover another piece of my roots and I can’t wait to share more of it with you, but today, we’re all about spring and this rustic stone fruit tart with peaches, blueberries and almonds!
I was wandering through the market earlier this week when I spotted these peaches and just had to have them. They are absolutely not in season yet, neither are the blueberries for that matter, but I didn’t care. I threw my euros at the man behind the stall and almost skipped off with a bag of suspiciously hard peaches! Don’t judge me! Our winter has been so long and so terrible! We still have another two weeks of wet weather ahead of us and it was either these peaches or a Shining like murder spree without the creepy hotel and twins.
In all honesty, the unripeness of these peaches were sort of perfect for my rustic stone fruit tart. When you’re making any sort of pie, you don’t want your fruit to be too soft or it’ll turn into a jammy mess. I wanted my fruit to keep its shape since my pie was baring its innards for all the world to see like the German couple who happened to be in the hot spring up north with Giulio and I this weekend. I didn’t want to see that man’s dangly bits, but he showed them to me anyway.
The tartness of the peaches also got me thinking about a sweet and savoury tart my grandmother likes to make. It’s a ricotta pie with pecorino cheese, parmesan and tons of parsley and black pepper, but the pastry is sweet and eggy, so you have a contrast in flavours with each bite. It’s called agrodolce in Italian and it’s one of my favourite flavour combinations.
I wanted to do something similar with my rustic stone fruit tart but on the dessert spectrum, so I played off the savoury notes of the peaches with rosemary. That’s not really reinventing the wheel. Rosemary pairs beautifully with stone fruits. It’s aromatic and earthy without being overpowering.
I then sweetened it with a scattering of almonds and a handful of blueberries. The blueberries are my favourite part of this rustic stone fruit tart. I add a handful halfway through cooking so they puff up and turn into delicious little balls of jam, but then keep the rest to scatter over the finished tart for pops of tartness and brightness.
The pastry is a bit of a revelation too. It’s made with brown sugar for a beautiful golden crust and caramel notes. I love using brown sugar in pastries because it melts in the mouth better than plain white sugar and isn’t as tooth achingly sweet.
This is a really beautiful rustic stone fruit tart to serve throughout spring and summer with whatever fruits you find on hand and in season.
Like a lot of Italian desserts, it’s not too sweet. The brown sugar melts and melds with the fruit so when you slice into it and delicious golden syrup drizzles out like the pie version of a self-saucing pudding. Just make sure you don’t skip the last part where you cover the hot rustic stone fruit tart in foil. It sounds nuts, but that’s actually when that syrup develops!
Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or gorgonzola and you’ll be in spring heaven no matter what the weather is like outside!
Rustic stone fruit tart with peaches, blueberries and almonds
for the brown sugar shortcrust pastry:
2 cups plain flour
145g cold butter, cubed
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
for the filling:
4 peaches, pitted and sliced into wedges
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1⁄3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup unpeeled almonds, halved
1⁄2 cup blueberries
To make the brown sugar shortcrust pastry, place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the milk and continue mixing until the mixture forms a rough ball. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Meanwhile, make your filling by combining the peaches, rosemary, vanilla essence, lemon zest and almonds in a bowl with a pinch of salt.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rough circle 1⁄2 cm thick. Spoon the fruit filling on top. Fold the sides of the pastry up to partially enclose the fruit. Place on a lightly greased baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle over 4 tablespoons of the brown sugar and bake for a further 20 minutes. Scattered over half the blueberries and bake for a final 10 minutes or until golden.
Remove your rustic stone fruit tart from the oven. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the top, cover with foil and stand for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream. Serves 6-8.