Recipe Off-Roading

When Amanda Hesser Is Short on Supplies, She Makes This Peach Tart

June 28, 2019

Welcome to Recipe Off-Roading, where the recipe isn’t in charge—you are. In this series of articles, we’re celebrating how cooks take liberties in the kitchen, whether that’s substituting an ingredient, adapting a technique, or doubling the salt (because you’re wild like that). So buckle up and let’s go for a ride.


If you have a knife, bowl, and any sort of pan, you can make our co-founder Amanda Hesser’s peach tart. Actually, scratch that. You don’t even need the bowl. “I've mixed the dough right in the pan,” she writes in the recipe, which published on Food52 in 2011.

The recipe comes by way of Amanda’s mother, Judy, who is famous around these parts for her oven-fried chicken. Of course, like any family recipe passed down from generation to generation, changes were made along the way.

Judy uses all vegetable oil in the crust, Amanda uses half vegetable and half olive. Judy peels her peaches, Amanda does not. Turns out, these little nips and tucks don’t make a difference to this easygoing tart.

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Top Comment:
“This was the second recipe I made out of ‘Cooking for Mr Latte’ I have made it with peaches, plums, apricots & apples. I use all olive oil & mix the ingredients in the pan but most radical of all I now make it gluten free due to the diagnosis of celiac disease. I use half almond flour & half cup4cup flour, 1 cup of each. Always a hit when I make it & the favorite is actually plums. ”
— meredith H.
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“I've made it with apples, apricots, blueberries, and sometimes a mix of fruit,” Amanda told me. “It's a flexible recipe. One that's—kindly—hard to mess up!”

Is that so?

For our Recipe Off-Roading series, I challenged the Food52 community to try. So far, our recipe testers have played around with Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce, Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta, and Maialino’s Olive Oil Cake.

Here’s how they made Amanda’s tart their own. (For the full collection of off-roaded tarts, head here.)


Rethink the peaches.

The original: 3 small ripe peaches (up to 5), pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch wide)
The findings: When I initially presented this off-roading challenge, it was April, months before peak peach season. So what are off-roaders to do? Many of them used thawed frozen peaches. Some used canned. Meanwhile, plenty of others ditched the peaches altogether. In their place: plums and bourbon-soaked cherries, rhubarb and crystallized ginger, roasted strawberries, guava, and more.

Change the oil in the crust.

The original: ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil, plus ¼ cup mild olive oil.
The findings: Some off-roaders took a cue from Judy and returned to an all-canola crust. Others swapped in more flavorful butter. And several people opted for avocado oil. How about that!

Or the extract in the crust.

The original: ½ teaspoon almond extract.
The findings: Almonds and peaches adore each other, but that didn’t stop our recipe rebels from changing up this component. Vanilla extract was a natural (and common) swap. More unexpected variations included: substituting bitters, adding balsamic vinegar, and really leaning in to that almondy flavor with literal almonds.

Actually, change whatever you want in the crust.

The original: 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour. No additional flavorings.
The findings: All-purpose flour is reliable as heck, but doesn’t offer much in the flavor department. Which is probably why you all were interested in the likes of nutty rye and earthy buckwheat. Others played around with aromatics and nuts—say, rosemary and walnuts.

Futz with the streusel.

The original: 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons butter.
The findings: Like the crust, the streusel in this recipe is ready for anything. Why not add oats? Or bring in brown sugar and crystallized ginger? Or skip the streusel altogether? All work.

Add spices.

The original: None!
The findings: Spices may just be the simplest way to put your own spin on any dessert recipe. In this case, off-roaders loved cinnamon, star anise, and ginger, cardamom (a few of you on this one!), and “Georgia peach spice”, or a mix of ground ginger, cinnamon, and lemon peel.

Cater to a certain diet.

The original: Full of gluten and dairy, though no meat!
The findings: Like our other experiments in the series, off-roaders took this opportunity to make an otherwise off-limits recipe possible for a loved one to eat. Talk about thoughtful. A couple folks made Amanda’s tart gluten-free, and one made it vegan (bye, dairy milk).

Add cheese!

The original: Um, no cheese.
The findings: I like the way you all think: If there’s no cheese, well, why not? And how can we fix this? Plenty of ways! A couple of you turned to sweet-milky mascarpone, while other off-roaders called in Brie and cream cheese.

Okay, add anything.

The original: Crust, peaches, streusel.
The findings: Frangipane was a popular addition (and yes, please, does that sound delicious)—both in classic almond, as well as pistachio. I’m also wide-eyed over this brown sugar–miso glaze.

Change the shape.

The original: 11-inch round tart.
The findings: As Amanda encouraged in the recipe’s headnote: Think outside the pan. And did you ever. Some ditched the circle and turned this tart into a cutie rectangle. Others skipped the pan altogether and went free-form—either in an oversized galette or mini hand pies.

How would you off-road Amanda Hesser’s peach tart? Tell us in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. See what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.

16 Comments

Kalizabro August 12, 2019
I can’t tell you how perfect this recipe is. The tart looked and tasted like something out of a patisserie à Paris. I’m definitely going off-road with this: rose water + cardamom; white pepper + ginger, etc!
 
raybezz63 August 12, 2019
Just starting to do some of the Food 52 recipes, and saw this pop-up on my email. Tried it and couldn't believe how easy to make, and how delicious it was! My daughters were giving their dad props for making this, and made me promise to make it for them when they visited!
 
Sherry W. August 12, 2019
I love this recipe and make it all the time....like today!
 
Nursehelene August 10, 2019
I write this while happily munching a slice of this so simple, yet so delicious tart. Hubby went out for ice cream to adorn his! Will definitely bake this again!
 
Lisa J. August 10, 2019
I had an abundance of peaches, and this recipe popped up in my email today. Seemed fortuitous, so i got to work. I goofed up the first crust by putting all the sugar and salt in as opposed to dividing it between the topping and the crust, (never cook when you are distracted!). No to worry, I saved that crust and used it to make blueberry/peach bars.

For the tart, I used my springform pan with a removeable bottom. This worked just fine. Also, it is so hot in my town, that I cooked this tart in my BBQ on the top rack; that worked fine also. The tart came out beautiful and tasty! It is so visually stunning, that you could take this tart anywhere. (I know in the U.K. this sentence means something else entirely!)

This was a very easy and fast recipe, one I would highly recommend for beginners and seasoned cooks alike. Thank you!
 
Christie August 10, 2019
I have also been making this for at least 10 years. I usually make it with all olive oil, sometimes adding a little walnut oil. My favorite and the easiest way to make it on the fly is with frozen dark cherries. I usually make the crust gluten free for my son by using white rice flour. I always double it and make it in a huge rectangle pan. It is the best when it is still warm, but I always look forward to some for the breakfast the next day. I can’t wait to try a few of the suggestions-like maybe mascarpone-yum.
 
meredith H. August 9, 2019
This was the second recipe I made out of ‘Cooking for Mr Latte’ I have made it with peaches, plums, apricots & apples. I use all olive oil & mix the ingredients in the pan but most radical of all I now make it gluten free due to the diagnosis of celiac disease. I use half almond flour & half cup4cup flour, 1 cup of each. Always a hit when I make it & the favorite is actually plums.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. August 12, 2019
I love plums sooo much.
 
jenkaa55 August 9, 2019
Probably my all-time favorite dessert recipe! I’ve only made it with peaches and olive oil and it is absolutely sublime! I love the ideas for switching it up...
 
jpriddy August 9, 2019
Yeah! All cooks and bakers do this!
 
Poppygold August 9, 2019
Forget the almond extract -- add a almond brittle broken up in the top with the original 'crumble'.
 
jeanne August 9, 2019
I have a bunch of apricots...would that work? They are kind of a dry fruit. Maybe soak them in rum first?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. August 12, 2019
Yes, apricots would work. Soaking beforehand shouldn't be necessary, but if you want to—go for it!
 
Deborah August 9, 2019
I like the idea of adding brie. Then I would top with some crispy prosciutto bits!
 
witloof June 28, 2019
This tart was the first recipe I made out of Cooking For Mr. Latte when I bought it in 2003. Since then I have baked probably a hundred with peaches, nectarines, apricots, rhubarb, sour cherries, raspberries, apples, and pears. This is the most genius recipe of all time for me. It comes together in 10 minutes and people LOVE it.
 
Amanda H. June 29, 2019
So nice to hear this!