There are some family recipes whose origins are a delicious mystery. For me, that recipe is a dessert we call “peach kuchen.” If you speak German you’re probably thinking “ooh, cake” – but no, it is actually a type of tart. This tart has sliced peaches pressed into a shortbread style crust that is then blanketed with a thin custardy topping.
I don’t know how the treat got this name since it is certainly not a cake. It could be that an Alsatian member of my family chose to use the German word for cake (kuchen) as a generic reference to dessert. Alternately the use of kuchen to mean tart may have come from the Pennsylvania Dutch community near my home town. Or maybe the name was simply made up by a distant relative talented in baking.
I have never seen another dessert quite like this so I’m going to keep calling it a kuchen. Maybe you can tell me your theory about what to call it after you eat it!
Peach Kuchen, A Fresh Peach Tart with Shortbread Crust
1 c flour
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
7 T sugar
4 T butter, chilled
2 large ripe peaches
½ tsp cinnamon
½ c milk
½ tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 400. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and 1 T sugar in medium bowl. (Set aside remaining 6 T of sugar.) Cut butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture. Using pastry blender, cut butter into flour until remaining lumps are smaller than a pea and the texture of the mixture is sandy. This can also be accomplished with a few quick pulses in a food processor.
Pour butter and flour mixture into a 9 inch glass pie plate. Use heel of hand to press mixture evenly into the bottom of the plate and 2/3 of the way up the side of the plate to form a crust.
Peel peaches and slice into very thin wedges – aim to get about 18-20 wedges from each peach. Arrange peach slices in crust so that they form concentric circles covering the entire bottom of the crust. Place the slices very close together so that they overlap each other.
Combine remaining 6 T of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Evenly pour cinnamon sugar over the peaches in the crust. Bake the tart in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
While tart bakes, thoroughly beat an egg in a small bowl. Add milk and vanilla to egg and beat until combined.
Once tart has baked for 15 minutes, remove from oven and place on a level surface. Gently pour milk and egg mixture over top of tart so that it covers peaches.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake tart for an additional 30 minutes. Remove tart from oven and allow to cool for at least an hour before serving.
Tart can be wrapped with plastic and held in the fridge for up to 2 days. The tart is best enjoyed with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Also makes a delicious, if indulgent breakfast treat.
Don’t have peaches? This tart is also good with any ripe stone fruit or fresh blueberries.