I unexpectedly came across some fresh apricots at the greengrocer’s the other day, and even though I have a ton in the freezer and more in jars, I couldn’t resist buying some. We’ve eaten so much apricot clafoutis recently that even though it’s delicious and easy, I decided to make a bit more effort this time. It’s not pastry-making weather, but a root around in the freezer produced a slab of pâte sucrée (sweet pastry), so away I went.
This tart is quite a lot of work if you have to make the pastry too, but the results are excellent, and it’s ideal for a summer party. Serve warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche or ice cream.
Pastry: use this pastry, or your favourite sweet shortcrust recipe. My recipe makes a lot; put the left-overs in the freezer, and you won’t have to make it next time 🙂
75 g caster sugar
75 g unsalted butter at room temperature
50 g plain flour
150 g ground almonds
Optional: 1 tsp orange flower water and/or almond essence (I don’t normally include these)
about a dozen ripe apricots
275 ml water
200 g caster sugar
50 ml amaretto (optional)
3 tbs good-quality apricot jam
1 tbs amaretto or water
Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 20 cm tart tin, preferably one with a loose bottom. Note, my pastry recipe is quite hard to handle. If it falls apart when you try to roll it out, just make the best of it and line the tin patchwork-fashion, dampening the edges of the pieces and pressing them together). Ideally, put it in the fridge for half an hour.
Put a piece of greaseproof paper or foil on top of the pastry, and cover with blind baking beans. Bake for about 6 minutes, then remove paper and beans, bake for another 6 minutes, then set aside to cool. The pastry should be dry but only very lightly coloured — it will cook more later.
To make the frangipane cream, just put all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz to blend — it should be a thick but not stiff paste.
For the apricots, dissolve the sugar in the water in a wide pan, by heating gently until it boils. While that happens, halve the apricots and discard the stones. Reduce heat to a simmer, add the apricots to the pan in a single layer, cover, set the timer for 4 minutes, and do not go away. It takes only seconds for the poached apricots to dissolve into a mush, and they will if you turn your back. They should be tender but still whole (it doesn’t matter if one or two collapse). If yours were very hard they might need a minute or two more, but be vigilant. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and place on a large plate or tray to drain. You can save the syrup and use it for sorbet.
To assemble the tart, spread the frangipane over the pastry. then carefully arrange the apricot halves cut side down in concentric circles, handling them gently. You can use any mushy ones to fill gaps. Preheat the oven to 180C, and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the frangipane is set and the pastry is lightly golden.
Remove the tart from the oven, and while it’s still hot, brush with apricot glaze, made by heating sieved good-quality apricot jam with a tablespoon or so of water or amaretto. Leave to cool, and serve with crème fraîche or ice cream.