(Peach is one of my favorite fruits during the summer season. I think it might be strongly related to my great childhood memories: pick directly from the tree during a hot day or freshly bake – French peach pie or preserve for the winter season – jam and canning experience with my grandmother Adele. My grandparents had one kind of peach in their orchard – the “pêche de vigne” (peach of the grapevine), delicate small white peaches full of fragrances. It was (and still is) a delicacy!
On the other hand, lemon verbena is a leafy herb with a strong lemony flavor. It originated in South America and was brought back to Europe, where it served as both a decorative and functional plant. When I was living in France, verbena has been one of my favorite herbal teas, the most common use for a lot of people. Here in Canada, I didn’t have the opportunity to drink any longer a cup of verbena tea, and I was so pleased when I have had the opportunity to source this delicacy here in Toronto a few years ago.
When you live overseas, there are simple pleasures, like finding products that bring you back home and make you feel cheerful: mustard of Dijon and perrier for me, “bonne maman” jam for my friends… and for a lot of us, the petits beurres (French butter cookies) also, French cheeses of course, and verbena.
Lemon verbena can be used when cooking, generally in sweet dishes, and this is something I wanted to explore for many years. In most of the recipes of peach tatin pies I have reviewed for this blog, people are using fresh verbena. Unfortunately, here in Toronto, it is quite difficult to find a verbena plant. In contrast, verbena as an herbal tea is quite easy to find – ask your favorite gourmet tea boutique, I am pretty sure they have some. To get all the flavor possible out of the dry leafs, the best solution is to infuse the dry leafs into a liquid. This can be done by steeping the leaves in boiling or near boiling liquid, much the same way as you might make tea, then straining them out before using the liquid in another recipe. And this is exactly the way that I have chosen to follow for the verbena infused cream.
Like in Provence, peach and verbena is the perfect combination for a sweet summer treat. The touch of lemon verbena lends an incredibly bright and fresh streak to the sweet cooked peaches in the tatin pie. Yummy… I was ready to try!
I love making pies, any kinds. I do it mostly without looking at a recipe. However, for this specific pie, it was quite different and really challenging. First, it was a new recipe for me. Secondly, I didn’t find any recipe online (except America Test Kitchen) that talks openly about the major issue when baking with peaches: they are really juicy and your pie or cake can be really soggy.
For my first peach tatin pie, I followed the recipe I have found online. No juice before I started to cook the pie in the oven, but after 35 minutes … A flood of juice above the crust, soggy, soggy. I did it again and again – in total we ate 6 peach tatin pies, improving each time a little bit more to get at the end the perfect peach tatin pie. I still love peaches… not a problem!
Don’t be afraid to cook your peaches on high heat, to caramelize them perfectly (you can see my pictures soggy vs caramelized). The peach is a delicate fruit and I was afraid to overcook them and obtain some sort of peach marmalade, but it has not been the case. The dry-heat/high-heat method cooks off a lot of water (and you need this) and helps to cook the peaches to just the right texture.
I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:
Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 50 min Yield: One 9-inch pie
8 to 10 peaches, ripe but firm
60 grams (4 tablespoons) butter
80 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1 sheet puff pastry
1 pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
If your peaches are not yet at maturity. Place them in a paper bag for 2 to 3 days.
Remove any stems and leaves still present on the peaches. Brush away any visible dirt or residue by hand. Fill a bowl or partially fill your kitchen sink with water, adding a small amount of soap as it fills. Place the peaches in the bowl or sink, rubbing the surface of the fruit to remove dirt and residue. Rinse the peaches in cool running water.
Cut them into quarters. Pan fry them quickly in butter (be sure to use a pan large enough to have one layer of fruits) on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the granulated sugar and mix. Lower the heat to medium heat and wait for peaches render their juice (it can take 10 to 12 minutes). Increase the heat to high and dry and simmer the peaches until there is no more juice.
It is really important to have at that point no liquid at all because the peaches may release some juice when cooking in the oven, and if this is the case, the peach pie will be soggy.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the peaches from the caramel and transfer them to a 9-inch pie dish.
Cut a 10-inch disk out of the puff pastry sheet. Drape it over the peaches in the pie dish.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 to 25 minutes.
Cut around edge of cake pan to loosen pastry. Carefully place a plate on top of the pie, slide your hand under bottom of the pie pan (be sure it’s cool enough to handle, or use a pot holder), and flip over the tart. Carefully lift off cake pan. The caramel should ooze out and pool around the tart. Rearrange any peaches that may have become dislodged. Cut warm tart into wedges; serve with verbena infused whipped cream.
I recommend to cook the pie when eating the first and second courses of your meal, and flip over the tart at the last minutes, just before to serve it. If it is not possible, it can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand in cake pan at room temperature. Rewarm tart in 350°F oven for 10 minutes before continuing.
Verbena infused whipped cream
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups heavy cream
4 teaspoons dry lemon verbena
4 tablespoons icing sugar
Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; add lemon verbena. Cover. Let steep 15 minutes. Strain cream into a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Beat infused cream with 4 tablespoons sugar to soft peaks.
Ready for the peach tatin pie…