PERFECTLY ripe peaches are one of life’s pleasures, and summer is the best time to seek them.

According to legend, a Tart de Tan was invented by unmarried French sisters who ran a hotel near Paris in the 1880s.

In French, the actual name of the tart is ‘’Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin’’ and it didn’t become famous until a Parisian restaurant called Maxim’s put it on the main menu.

Nowadays, this traditional tart is still the apple version served in France, with tons of caramel to hold it together.

Other varieties of fruits like pears and peaches can also be used when in season, and the tart is traditionally served warm with fresh cream.

Stephanie Tatin, one of the sisters, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day, started to make a traditional apple pie and left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long.

Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting a pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting it into the oven.

After turning it upside down, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert.

The French turned the Puritan plain apple pie on its head along with the apples wanting to grow up with a comforting blanket of biscuity pastry and lovely caramelised brandy finery.

The pastry seems to be subject of a debate these days between puff and shortcrust: I’m in the puff camp with Raymond Blanc, as it has a lovely buttery flavour that crisps up sensationally well and makes a lovely contrast with the soft fruits above.

However, as the tart cools slightly, the juices soak into it, making it sadly soggy. So really this tart is best eaten warm, whereas the more robust shortcrust benefits more, but becoming plain. This offsets the rich topping beautifully, swaying people in its favour if they are serving it cold.

Mastering French baking can sometimes be off-putting, and the method of assembling the tart with its caramelised fruits can often see you grilling the tart once baked, as it never seems to get beyond a pale tan.

My foolproof recipe is easy to execute – baking the puff pastry base first will give the tart a firm base for something for the sweet, buttery, caramel peaches to sit on, holding the whole lot together nicely.

Then you can spoon over the brandy sauce without needing the flipping over onto a plate trick and splattering the kitchen floor and dog! 

Summer Peach Tart de Tan


375g block or ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry 

4 ripe peaches, stoned and cut into six wedges

35g unsalted butter 

4 tablespoons caster sugar

Good slug of French brandy 


1. Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6.

2. Roll out the puff pastry using a little flour to the thickness of a pound coin, or unroll the sheet if ready-rolled and cut out a round 23cm/9inch disk using a cake tin as a guide. 

3. Transfer the disk onto a parchment-lined baking tray, pricking all over with a fork then baking for 15 minutes until golden brown and puffed up. 

4. Meanwhile, put the peach slices into a frying pan with the butter and sugar, cooking over a low-medium heat setting for five minutes until tender and lightly caramelised in colour.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the brandy – be careful as brandy near a flame can be dangerous. 

6. Toss the peaches gently within the brandy sauce, then return them back to the heat briefly to warm through. 

7. To serve, spoon over the peaches onto the baked puff pastry round with all the brandy caramel sauce, and serve with fresh cream or good vanilla ice cream. 

* You can also use tinned peaches or pears when unavailable fresh, but use less sugar and pat them dry before frying.     The