Amanda Hesser's Beloved Peach Tart Has One Unlikely Crusader

A criminal defense lawyer is obsessed with this summertime staple.

August 25, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

It won the award of “Your Best Peach Pie or Tart” in the classic A&M (aka Amanda and Merrill) Smackdown. It has over a four-star rating from more than 600 reviewers. It’s prime for peach season and has been baked by home cooks time and time again. There’s a lot of love for Amanda Hessert’s Peach Tart recipe...but there’s some hate, too.

As a criminal defense lawyer, Rob Herrington’s natural instinct is to defend things he believes are worthy of a second chance. But this time, we’re not talking about his clients. We’re talking about Food52’s co-founder’s peach tart recipe. After baking Amanda’s Peach Tart and falling in love with the crust, Herrington, who lives in Dallas, Texas, did something he rarely does on recipe posts—he left a review. “I commented that the recipe was great and all of a sudden, I started getting emails that people were commenting ‘this was the worst recipe in the history of the universe.’ If it was something really complicated like pheasant under glass or bouillabaisse, I could understand if you messed up, but the recipe was really quite straightforward.”

After he read a series of negative reviews mixed into the comments, Herrington came to Amanda’s defense, pro-bono of course, correcting commenters who misread the recipe or incorrectly measured ingredients such as oil or milk. But he also offered a helping hand, too. After one baker commented that the tart browned too quickly, Herrington responded, recommending that “[y]ou have to lay or tent some foil lightly across the top. It will still brown, and won't burn. Also watch the time.” It seemed as if every time someone had a bad experience with Amanda’s Peach Tart, Herrington was by her side. Recipe comment sections, like all comment sections, can be fraught places, but Rob’s love for this peach tart, and his quest to help other people make it and love it too, caught Food52 editors’ eyes. What drew Herrington to this particular recipe? And what was it that made him fall in love with it?

Earlier this year, Herrington had picked up some nectarines from the grocery store and had a craving for a peach tart. He came across Amanda’s recipe and immediately knew it was what he was looking for. “Peaches, sugar, milk, and butter...what can go wrong? I saw this peach tart and I said, ‘Lord have mercy.’ I thought if I could even come close to how it looked in the photograph, ‘I’m going to be happy.’”

This tart recipe was also appealing to him because he grew up watching his mother cook from The Betty Crocker Cookbook in the 1950s. “Betty Crocker’s crust is a lot like Amanda’s crust because it’s oil-based with a little bit of milk,” he told me. “As soon as I looked at Amanda’s recipe, I was comfortable with it. The proportions were a little different than what I was used to, but when I saw it, I knew it had to be good and would work.”

Herrington cut back on the sugar—“I am addicted to sugar but I’m 68 and my wife doesn’t like that much sugar, so I cut the sugar by maybe 25 percent the first time.” He was also nervous about the butter-sugar crumble on top, since he didn’t distribute the mixture evenly across the peaches. But miraculously, the recipe still worked. “This tart really takes care of itself in the oven.”

Herrington acknowledges that all home bakers mess up from time to time, whether it be forgetting to add sugar or adding too much leavener. But he believes there is no room for hate for something so sweet.

Have you tried baking Amanda's Peach Tart? Let us know what you thought of the recipe in the comments section below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Caitlin G. August 31, 2021
sweet story :)
Sherry W. August 30, 2021
I absolutely love this recipe. I make it often with whatever fruit I have on hand. I was not real crazy about the oil in the crust and just swapped out melted butter. Perfect. I think I will go out and make one right now. It will be in the oven in less than 30 minutes counting all prep. Yum!
judy August 29, 2021
I make a peaches and cream version of this tart. I make a simple cheese cake filling, line the tart shell with that and lay the peaches over the top. Works great. I must say that I have also used store bought pie crust, and down a galette version that also works very well. I do it on my lazy weeks, as in peach season I make peach tarts. with variations about 10-12 times over cling free peach/necatarine seasons. Variations: crust, combine with other seasonal fruits: blue berries, black berries, raspberries; plums white peaches. Vary the base flavor profile" lemon with zest, lime, almond, vanilla; vary the spice, with our favorite being cardamom and anise; thyme is also very interesting. So many possibilities with the basic recipe. Thanks.....
Sam August 29, 2021
I seen it it looked good I never bake but so far I have made 5 for the season. Good stuff
Amber August 29, 2021
I make this tart all the time — it’s a staple recipe, since it doesn’t require much equipment or many ingredients. It’s also a great way to deal with not fully ripe fruit. I’ve tried it with all sorts of fruits, and it hasn’t let me down yet. The olive oil in the crust makes the flavor special.
FireflyA August 29, 2021
I use half almond flour for the crust! Still perfect!
FireflyA August 29, 2021
I love this tart and make it every year! I use less sugar…and this year substituted brown coconut sugar. I used to make pies but this has become my favorite fruit tart….so easy!
laura L. August 25, 2021
Just made this last night. Perfect every time. Is a vacation staple summer after summer.
Kelly V. August 26, 2021
Yum! It's definitely the perfect dessert to enjoy during summer vacation!
Kendy S. August 25, 2021
I love this recipe and have made it dozens of times. Just made it again on Monday with spectacular results ❤️
Kelly V. August 25, 2021
So glad to hear that!