Monday, July 20, 2009
Those who know me would agree that I am a fan of the bold gesture. I would put this tart in that category. Like a good piece of statement jewelry. Like renting a villa in Italy and sending your closest friends first class tickets to join you. (Hasn't happened yet, but believe me, it's going to.)
First and foremost, this tart is a stunner. When you trot it out at the end of a meal or at brunch, people will inevitably ask if you really made it. It happened to me again last night. Not only does this tart look, smell and taste like summer, it's also good for the ol' self esteem. Quadroople bonus.
And believe it or not, it's truly easy - even if you've never made a crust before! You can substitute apricots with figs or plums - or any stone fruit. The only extra you'll need is a 12" round fluted tart pan.
This recipe is from the book, Patricia Wells at Home in Provence.
unsalted butter to grease tart pan
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. pure almond extract
1/8 tsp. pure vanilla extract
a pinch fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbsp. finely ground raw almonds (I use my coffee grinder)
1/2 cup heavy cream (buy organic!)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. raw honey
1 tbsp. superfine flour such as Wondra
about 1 1/2 pounds fresh apricots (hit your local farmers' market!), pitted and halved, do not peel (I slice mine into moons but for a heavier fruit-to-bite ratio, just halve them)
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter bottom and sides of tart pan.
3. In large bowl, combine butter and sugar and, with a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the almond and vanilla extracts, salt, flour, and stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Do not let it form into a ball. (I find mine to be very crumbly and unable to hold into a ball even if it wanted to - it's still OK) Transfer dough into the center of buttered tart pan and using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and sides of the pan. The dough will be quite thin.
4. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set about 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle the almonds on the crust. This will prevent it from becoming soggy.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the cream. In a medium-size bowl, combine cream, egg, both extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Then whisk in superfine flour.
6. Starting just inside the edge of the pre-baked pastry pan, neatly overlap the halved or half-moon slices of apricots, cut side up at a slight angle. Make 2 or 3 concentric circles working towards the center. (I ran out of apricots and added a sprinkling of blueberries to fill in the gaps as you can clearly see.)
7. Pour the cream evenly over the fruit. Place in center of oven and bake until the filling is firm and the pasty is deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. The apricots will shrivel slightly. Allow to cool before slicing.
8. TASTES GREAT CHILLED THE NEXT DAY!