Apricot and almond tart
June 22, 2010
I’ve got apricots this week and they’re a bit tart. They seem to be one of those varieties that are rock hard for ages then become perfectly ripe (and amazing) for about half an hour before declining into mush. I exaggerate of course ….. but only a bit. Unless you’re prepared to stand guard over your stash, the way forward is cooking them. You can of course keep it simple and make a compote with a little water and some sugar. With yogurt it makes a lovely start to the day and on a slice of toasted panetone served with a mascarpone cream a really fab dessert.
Having been there and done all that, this afternoon I decided to revisit an almond tart recipe I haven’t made for years. Normally I tend to steer clear of recipes involving pastry – no time and it’s bad for you anyway. I keep meaning to give it a go but things tend to be bedlam in the kitchen here and I never seem to get around to it. Today was no different (I know my limitations!) so, on the way home from school with Dan I went to the shops and bought a block of the frozen stuff. Unlike other convenience products that make you wish you’d tried another recipe instead of taking the shortcut, frozen pastry is absolutely fine. You just need to plan ahead as it takes a while to thaw out and no, you can’t do it in the microwave as some bits will cook while others remain rock hard.
So, thaw it out…….. but not too much. You want it cool but malleable without getting soft or, heaven forbid, gooey. This means that you can’t leave it in the sun and walk away. Ordinarily it takes a few hours and if the weather’s warm be sure to check in on it after an hour or so. When it’s ready roll it out evenly to the shape you need.
Line your tart dish but don’t trim the pastry, then put it into the fridge for a couple of hours. This allows the pastry to “rest” and “relax” (it’s exhausting living in the freezer section you know) so if it’s going to shrink it does so before it goes in the oven rather than during. It’s a pain especially if you like a bit of instant gratification (Dan was disgusted) but if you don’t do it the pastry shrinks in the oven and you’re left with overflowing filling which, if you’re making something like a Quiche is no fun.
After you’ve “relaxed” the pastry case you are ready to…………. not make your tart exactly but to bake the case. You bake the pastry case “blind” which means you bake it without the filling first as pastry generally takes longer to bake than most of the stuff you put inside it. As you’ve probably already guessed ,this involves a couple of steps. First of all you trim the edges of the case then prick the base with a fork but not too much or filling will escape later on. Finally lay a sheet of greaseproof paper over the base which you top with some dried beans or lentils. This stops the pastry bubbling up. Finally you bake the case at Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes. After it comes out of the oven you remove the beans and are finally ready to go……really!!!
Apricot and Almond Tart.
1 9 inch pastry case (see above). This is enough for 4-6 greedy people. Double the filling quantities if you want to do a 12 inch one which you might as it keeps well.
90gr caster sugar. Brown sugar also works well but the result is slightly heavier and has a kind of caramel flavor
110gr ground almonds
1 tablespoon self-raising flour
1 large egg
Prepare your fruit by washing, halving and stoning the apricots then set aside for later. Make the frangipane (the almond stuff) by beating the butter until soft then adding the sugar then the egg. Finally, fold in the almonds and self-raising flour. Pour the mixture into the pastry case then top with the apricot halves (as many as will fit).
Bake for about 35 minutes at Gas 6 or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle and the top is golden.
Remove from the oven and serve either warm or at room temperature with some Crème Fraiche, Whipped Cream or Vanilla ice-cream. It’s a lot of work I know but, the result is pretty special. I dare you!