For the last 4 weeks I have been working on redesigning this website. To be honest, when it comes to being a blogger, working in the backend of the things is not my favorite thing to do. For one thing, I do not know anything about coding or HTML or CSS. If those sound foreign to you, you are not alone – welcome to my world. But it had to be done, because the previous look was not responsive, meaning it didn’t look right on mobile and tablet devices. It was constantly freezing up and the images were not displaying correctly.
Believe me, in the already crowded and competitive world of content creation that kind of a problem is a nightmare for a blogger. But in the end, even though I did spend countless hours figuring things out and had some really dark moments along the way, now that it is over I think it was all worth it. It is not completely finished and there are new things that I will be adding in the next couple of weeks, but I would love it if you could click around and let me know what you think.
To celebrate the new look, I baked this Fresh Peach and Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust.
About this Fresh Peach and Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust Recipe:
This recipe comes from Amy Chaplin’s cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well. If you were familiar with her (and her blog), you would know that she worked as a vegetarian chef in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. for over 20 years. Her book is full of beautiful desserts and other vegan/vegetarian recipes that I found to be foolproof. I have been cooking and baking from it for over a year now and cannot recommend it enough. Especially if you are like me, in the process of learning how to cook/bake healthier recipes without sacrificing the taste…
What I love about this recipe is the fact that it uses no refined sugar. The sweetness mostly comes from the fruit. The walnut crust is simply delicious. And the best part is that it all comes together in less than an hour.
When you read the recipe below, you will see that there are two unusual ingredients that you may not have in your pantry: agar flakes and arrowroot. I certainly didn’t. However, if you are into vegan baking it is a good idea to invest in these ingredients. I purchased them from Whole Foods, but they are available on Amazon as well.
But what are they and how do we use them? The following is from Amy’s book:
“The secret to success in creating delectable vegan desserts is learning how to use agar and arrowroot. Agar sets a dessert and arrowroot makes it creamy; the perfect balance of two results in a dreamy consistency that melts in your mouth. Once you understand this principle, you can achieve almost any result without the use of any animal products.”
Some helpful tips and tricks to help you with this recipe:
Below are some helpful tips from Amy’s Cookbook about agar flakes and arrowroot powder:
- Agar is a clear seaweed that dissolves in simmering liquid and sets like gelatin when cooled. It is used for setting custards, filling for tarts, mousses, and fruit glazes. It helps them to hold together. However, if you use too much of it will create a rubbery unpleasant texture.
- There are other forms of agar like bar and powder, but for this recipe we are using the flake form.
- It is virtually tasteless, but if you use more than you should you might detect a briny flavor.
- When dissolving agar, you should use a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. The heavy bottom pot will prevent it form sticking and the tight fitting lid will prevent it from evaporating.
- The recipe below uses apple juice to dissolve agar flakes, but you may see some vegan recipes use other fruit juices and even coconut milk. For this recipe, I juiced apples in my juicer. If you prefer to use store-bought apple juice, make sure it is not sweetened with sugar.
- It is important to whisk agar flakes and the liquid that is being dissolved in as it comes to a boil. Once it boils, turn down the heat to low and put the lid on. It should dissolve completely in 5 minutes or so.
- Arrowroot is a tasteless thickener that is excellent for creating a smooth and creamy texture in custard fillings, sauces, and glazes.
- It is a healthier alternative to cornstarch and mostly used in vegan baking as a thickening agent.
- When dissolving arrowroot, just like you would do with cornstarch, use a small amount of cold liquid to dissolve it first and then slowly whisk it into your simmering sauce to thicken it. Keep in mind that, after you take it off the heat it will thicken as it cools. If it sets too much, you can briefly return it to medium heat and stir until it is liquid again.
Although I am new to these two ingredients and wouldn’t know what to do with them without a recipe, I found them to be super easy to use. They may sound intimidating at first, but if you follow the recipe below you should have no problems.
About the Walnut Crust
About the crust: To me, the walnut crust is the most exciting part of this recipe. In her recipe, Amy suggests that you might be left with some crust (just enough to make a couple of cookies) after you press the dough into the tart pan to about ¼ inch thickness. Since what I am a big fan of the crust, I used the whole dough and ended up with just a little thicker crust. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to bake. 18 minutes was enough.
Once you fill it with the fruit, I know that it will be hard to wait, but do your best to let it set and cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. Amy suggests that it is best to eat it on the day you baked it because the moisture from the peaches makes the tart soggy the next day. However, my husband and I enjoyed the leftovers the next morning for breakfast with coffee and we thought that it was still very good. I served it with crème Fraiche, but if you are observing a vegan diet you can use your favorite vegan ice cream or eat it just by itself. Either way, I promise that this tart will be your new favorite summer fruit dessert once you give it a go.
OTHER Recipes Made with Fresh Peaches
- Peach Cobbler with Cornmeal Thyme Biscuits
- Fresh Peach and Walnut Salsa
- Black Eyed Pea Salad with Peaches, Pecans, and Lime
- Peach Galette
Fresh Peach and Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust
To make the crust:
- Coconut oil for oiling the tart pan
- 1 ¼ cups (4.8 ounces) walnut halves
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup whole spelt flour
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil melted and cooled
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the filling:
- 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons apple juice divided
- 1 teaspoon agar flakes
- 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
- 4 1 ½ pounds barely ripe medium peaches, sliced into ½ inch slices
- ½ cup fresh blueberries rinsed
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons pistachios chopped or ground
- crème fraiche or your favorite ice cream to serve with
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F degrees. Using the coconut oil, thoroughly oil a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set it aside.
- Place walnut halves, oats, brown rice flour, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Grind for 20 seconds or until coarsely ground.
- Transfer to a bowl and stir in the spelt flour. Pour in the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Using a fork, mix until thoroughly incorporated. It should moist, but no sticky.
- Transfer the dough onto the prepared tart pan. Either using your fingers or the back of a spoon, evenly press the dough into the tart pan until it is about ¼-inch in thickness. Here, you want to make sure that the tart dough reaches all the way to the edges of the tart pan. Trim any excess dough. Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork and bake for 18 minutes or until it turns golden-brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool on the kitchen counter.
- To make the filling: Place 1-cup apple juice and agar flakes in a small heavy-bottom pot. Whisking frequently, bring it to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, agar flakes should be completely dissolved.
- Meanwhile, in a small cup whisk together the arrowroot powder and the remaining 2 teaspoons of apple juice until it is completely dissolved. Slowly whisk it into the simmering apple juice and agar mixture. Turn the heat up to medium-high and whisk constantly until it thickens. This should take no more than 2-3 minutes. Set it aside to cool for 5 minutes. Do not let it set, if it does, return it to medium heat and stir it until it is in liquid form again.
- Place sliced peaches and blueberries in a large bowl and drizzle it with the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Give it a gentle stir. Pour the warm agar mixture over the fruit; working quickly, use a rubber spatula to coat the fruit completely. Transfer the fruit mixture into the tart and distribute it evenly. Pour any of the remaining juices over the fruit. Place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle the tart with chopped pistachio. Serve each slice with crème fraiche or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.