This extraordinary fruit is a peach. And not a newly designed one, but a very old variety which existed in XVIIth century. At the time French vineyard owners noticed a certain peach variety was very sensitive to mildew, a fungus particularly dangerous to the vines, and planted the peach trees next to the vineyards to alert them from the future attack of the precious vines. They acted like an alarm system warning against this terrible vine disease, hence the name “pêche de vigne” (vineyard peach).
Maybe because no one has fiddled genetically with this fruit, it still keeps its unattractive greyish skin and uncompromising slightly tart taste but definitely very sweet. Its smell is so strong that when I entered the kitchen after a couple of hours I couldn’t believe a peach can smell this way! Would you believe this greyish ball hides an extraordinary crimson, juicy flesh and an enticing aroma?
I have no idea if this peach exists outside of France and Switzerland, but at least in France the fruit appears on the markets for a very short time and is never seen in the supermarkets of course. You can eat this peach in the same way you have the classical peach, the colour and aroma are a bonus!
As you may have already guessed the above is not a beetroot cake. After the baking stage the vineyard peach takes this beautiful colour with an almost violet side to it. The upside-down tart has a crunchy bottom (once turned upside-down of course!) and very soft rich fruit top. The following day the bottom will become a bit soft, but still delicious.
Before touching the peach wear dark clothes and gloves! Its juice (especially after baking) stains almost like… beetroots.
Preparation: 45 min – 1 hour
1 tart pastry package (mine weighed 230 g) + a bit of confectioner’s sugar or your own home-made pastry
1 kg vineyard peaches
6 tablespoons sugar
50 g butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Grease a tart dish generously with butter (also the sides). Sprinkle half of the sugar on the bottom.
Put the peaches for a minute or two in boiling water. Take them out with a slotted spoon and put into a cold water bowl. Peel them with your fingers or a knife. Cut them into eight pieces, discarding the stones.
Line the greased tart bottom with fruit pieces. Sprinkle over them the rest of the sugar.
Roll out the tart pastry. Sprinkle on both sides with confectioner’s sugar (unless the pastry is already sweet).
Cover the peaches with the pastry sheet, tucking the well the sides downwards.
Prick the surface regularly with a fork.
Put into the oven for at least 45 minutes. Take it out when the tart is golden brown.
When it cools down a bit, put over it a big plate (bottom side up) and carefully turn the tart upside down. (Do it over a kitchen sink and wear dark clothes.) Arrange on the top the fruit pieces which haven’t fallen onto the plate.