Friday, June 4, 2010

I Heart Tarts: Peach and Polenta Tart

I kept hearing everyone rave about how delicious the peaches are this season, so I decided to try Joanne Weir’s recipe for a nectarine tart with peaches instead. I had the pleasure of volunteering for a class Joanne taught at Central Market’s Cooking School last year. She was great to work with – very warm and funny. She even went out for tacos after class with the school staff and volunteers - too bad I didn’t get to join them but I had hungry pups at home to feed. In her class, she presented recipes from her cookbook, Wine Country Cooking, and she graciously autographed a copy for me after class. I’ve made her amazing Italian mac-n-cheese from the book several times but hadn’t tried any of her desserts yet.
To make the tart, I picked up some hill country peaches from Stonewall, TX, the self-proclaimed peach capital of Texas. The peaches seemed on the small side compared to the Georgia peaches I was accustomed to back in Florida, however, they looked tasty and weren’t overly ripe. Joanne’s recipe specified using not-quite-ripe fruit so as to avoid a soggy bottom (or soggy crust, but that’s not nearly as fun a description). Thanks to an article Addie posted on Relish Austin, I learned the variety of fruit I picked up were cling peaches, meaning the flesh is attached to the pit. This made separating the flesh a bit more of a challenge but the extra effort was worth it.
My parents came in town for the Memorial Day holiday, in time to enjoy the tart with us. Since I'm the designated activities planner for their visits, I thought Dad might enjoy seeing the Walter Cronkite exhibit that just opened. When I mentioned it to him, he declared Cronkite a Leftist and passed. Now that I think of it, I guess asking my Dad to go to the exhibit was akin to asking me to go to a Rush Limbaugh exhibit. As in, not gonna happen. Dad and I may not share similar political ideologies but we do share a love of presidential libraries. On my parents' first visit to Austin after we moved here, we went to visit the LBJ Library and thoroughly enjoyed it. So when Dad nixed Cronkite, we switched to plan B and drove out to Stonewall to visit the Texas White House at the LBJ State Historical Park
The park was beautiful, the weather lovely, and the wildflowers were still out in full force. In a happy coincidence, there was a fruit stand just across from the park entrance so we stopped to pick up even more peaches and some delicious homemade peach ice cream. I think I just might have to try my hand at making some peach ice cream before the season is over. In the meantime, this tart satiated my craving...
Peach and Polenta Tart
adapted from Wine Country Cooking

2 pounds not-quite-ripe peaches, sliced 1/4" thick
2 T all purpose flour
1/3 c turbinado sugar
1/2 t grated nutmeg (I love nutmeg so I doubled)

1/2 c + 3 T unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 c granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c polenta (or cornmeal- the fancy boxes labeled polenta cost twice as much but it's the same damn thing)
pinch of salt

1. Butter a 9" tart pan and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. To make the dough, cream the butter and granulated sugar in a medium bowl with a whisk. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and whisk in well. In another bowl, sift the flour, polenta (cornmeal), and salt.  Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture until the dough comes together. Halve the dough and refrigerate until chilled.
3. In the meantime, make the filling. Toss the sliced peaches, flour, turbinado sugar, and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.
4. When the dough has chilled enough to easily handle, use one half to line the tart pan. Evenly spoon the filling into the tart shell and set aside.
5. Roll out the other dough half on a lightly floured work surface until 1/4" thick. Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut enough dough hearts to cover the tart shell and filling. Arrange the hearts on top in a concentric circle, overlapping slightly, with the points toward the middle. Bake the tart 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden.
6. Cool and serve slices with homemade whipped cream sweetened with a little sugar.


  1. Ohhhhhhh! Just when I think you couldn't make me drool any more, you succeed in spades. I can almost smell and taste this! Almost...sigh.

  2. Thanks! BTW, I've enjoyed your posts on Foreign & Domestic and StrEAT. Both are now on my list- keep 'em coming!

  3. Mmm, that looks delicious AND beautiful. Love the hearts. And thanks for the cornmeal tip!

  4. @ EllenCas1974 So wish you and Monkey were coming in town. I'd bake another tart just for Monkey to taste TX peaches. Of course, I'm sure he'll get spoiled by Georgia peaches soon enough. You'll have to hold on to his little cowboy boots to remind him he was a Texan first.

    @ Beth I have to admit I was duped and bought a box of "polenta." My husband had a good laugh at my expense so I'm trying to save others the embarrassment :-)

  5. This looks like an awesome tart, and I LOVE the overlapping hearts. Am thinking this is another use for my massive collection of cookie cutters -- e.g. trees at Christmas, shamrocks on St. Pat's Day, etc. We don't yet have ripe peaches here in NJ, but I'll save this recipe because I know they'll be here soon.