Peaches are a classic summer fruit that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. They also have a long history in Greek cuisine. According to the New Oxford Book of Food Plants, peaches were known in Greece from about 300 BC. After conquering Persia, Alexander the Great introduced the fruit to Europe. The scientific name for peaches Prunus persica, means Persian plum.
There are hundreds of varieties of peaches and nectarines, commonly separated into two categories, freestone and clingstone. The pits of the freestone type are easily removed from the flesh of the fruit while the clingstone pits are embedded in the flesh and are difficult to remove. Peaches are a good source of vitamin A and dietary fiber, and have a useful amount of vitamin C and potassium. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, Statistics Division (FAOSTAT), Greece and the United States tied for fourth place in their annual peach and nectarine production for the year 2014 with about 1 million tonnes (1 metric ton equals 1,000 kilograms or 2,205 pounds).
Try the following recipe for a tasty summer dessert with peaches, but feel free to substitute other summer fruits like nectarines and plums or a mixture of summer fruits for a delicious variation.
Peach Tart – Glykisma me Rodakina
For the dough:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or Zea flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
For the lattice topping:
To make the dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the eggs and stir together until the dough forms. Divide in half. Shape each half into a round disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until ready to roll out, for at least a half hour. The dough can be refrigerated up to three days, just allow to thaw slightly at room temperature until easier to roll out.
To make the filling, place the sliced peaches in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, and sugar, then add to the peaches and toss to coat evenly. Set aside while rolling out the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the disks of dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 10-inch tart pan or 9-inch pie plate. Reserve any trimmings. Add the peach filling and set aside.
Roll out the remaining dough along with any reserved trimmings to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into long strips, 1/2-inch to 1-inch wide to make a lattice topping. For a simple lattice, place about 5 or 6 of the strips diagonally across the top of the tart in one direction, then place the rest of the strips diagonally across the top of the strips in the other direction.
If a classic lattice is preferred, once the strips are placed on top as above, weave the strips to form the lattice design.
Brush the lattice top with a little water and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. The tart can be refrigerated at this point until ready to bake for up to two days.
Bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown and the filling is bubbly in the center. You might need to place a rimmed baking sheet beneath the tart to catch any drips, depending on the juiciness of the peaches.
Serve warm with ice cream, if preferred, or at room temperature.