Apricots are one of my favorite fruits. It’s been a great season for them here in the Northeastern United States every week I by many pounds of them and come home and try make something with them: Apricot Ice Cream, Indian Chutney with Currants and last night for a dinner party Apricot Tart. The recipe I used was from Kate Zuckerman’s: The Sweet Life, Desserts from Chanterelle.
Halfway through making it I was taken by how, what I thought was going to be a simple straight forward tart recipe, was turning into a much more complicated and time-consuming endeavor. The last hour I was cursing myself for not having read it better and convinced I could have made an easier version (though in truth, I looked for days for a recipe for a baked apricot tart in a frangipane/custard recipe, and this was one of the few I found.)
The unusual thing about this tart is the pastry which only takes about 15 minutes to make but requires room temperature butter which is then processed in a standing mixed for about 12 minutes. Usually this kind of La pâte brisée sucrée aka shortbread crust is made with cold butter which is incorporated gingerly, not so here. Also this pastry requires an overnight in the fridge (not unusual) and 30 minutes in the freezer prior to its first bake. Yes I said first bake as it is baked three times! When all is said and done it was worth it. The crust was crumbly, sweet and crisp a beautiful contrast to the filling which was subtly sweet and Almond flavored in a way which complimented, but didn’t overwhelm the Apricots. A classic tart well worth the effort.
The day before make the tart dough.
Separate 2 Large Eggs Yolks and let come to room temperature.
Sift 1 1/3 cups of organic icing sugar into a small bowl and put aside.
In another small bowl add 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour and 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt and put aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer paddle attachment add: 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons/8 ounces/half a pound) of room temperature butter. Process on medium speed for a minute, turn off and add the sifted sugar. Turn back on to medium high and beat for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is light fluffy and very pale.
Add the 2 large egg yolks one at a time, beat until they are fully incorporated and the batter has a smooth and glossy look – about 2 minutes.
Turn off the mixer and add the flour/salt mixture take this opportunity to scrape down the sides of the bowl and to gently incorporate the flour minimally before turning the mixer on again to slow speed for 1-2 more minutes. If need be scrape down the sides of the bowl one more time and beat from another 30 seconds.
You can separate this two into two rounds which gives you enough for 2 9″ tarts – because this tart is made in an 11 or 12″ tart pan I flattened all the dough out into one large disc and the leftover dough I simply re-froze. I use either recycled plastic bags to wrap the dough in or parchment paper – which is my preferred method as you can then reuse it to roll the dough in
This dough needs at least 2 hours in the fridge but it’s best to leave it overnight.
When you are ready to start baking take the dough out and place it on a cold surface in a room that is not hot! Get that a/c going for this. I used no flour to roll this out instead I placed the disc between two sheets of parchment paper – in retrospect a very light sprinkling of flour on either side of the disk would be a good idea in addition to the 2 sheets of parchment.
Roll the dough out to 1/8″ thick remove the top sheet of parchment and gently flip the dough into the pan. It will inevitably require patching and trimming – this dough is very forgiving.
Cover with parchment and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
After 30 minutes remove from freezer, add pie weights or beans (whatever you use) to the shell, place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
Remove the weights and the parchment, place the tart on tin foil and wrap it around the edges of the tart so they don’t over brown. Place back into the oven and bake until the center is browned about 12 minutes.
During this last part you can start making the filling.
In a small pot add 1 Stick of unsalted Butter (8 Tablespoons/4 Ounces) and melt over medium high heat until the butter caramelizes and starts to smell nutty. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add: 1/4 cup of Almond Paste, 3/4 cup of sugar and 2 Large Eggs and process until well combined. Turn off and add 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour and 1/4 Teaspoon Salt turn on to slow and process.
Turn the speed to medium and slowly add the butter being careful not to incorporate any of the brown solids. Once the butter is incorporated add 1 cup of Crème fraîche and continue to mix on slow speed until the mixture is completely combined.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl if need be and set aside.
Pit and cut in half a generous pound of Apricots or Plums.
When the crust has finished it’s second bake remove from oven, keep the tin foil in place, making sure it is set out of the way so it won’t come in contact with the filling – otherwise it will stick and cause grief later. Sprinkle over the bottom of the shell 1 Cup of lightly toasted sliced Almonds (I crushed them in my palm as I did this, you could use whole almonds chopped – blanched or not I don’t think it makes a difference).
Pour in the custard and arrange the apricots. You may have more filling than you need if you use a 11″ tart pan – or your tart pan is well used like mine and the sides slope. If this is the case only add three quarters of the custard – mine overflowed and covered some of the fruit – it all worked out fine but it caused anxiety and more work so if you can avoid it or find a 12″ tart pan that would be ideal.
Place back into the oven and bake until the tart is nicely browned about 35-40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool at least 30 minutes before trying to remove the metal tart ring.
Perfect just as it is – I served unsweetened whipped cream and homemade candied sour cherries on the side – no one complained 😉
Time consuming, but so worth the effort.