Apricots are one of those fruits that, in Britain at least, promise so much, yet often deliver minor disappointment: dreams of velvety, perfumed flesh are dashed in a single, stringy bite or, worse, an entire mouthful of bland, watery wool. Baked, however, they will usually yield to soft, jammy sweetness, and this lovely tart is an excellent way to showcase apricots at their best.
Prep 5 min
Chill 1 hr
Cook 50 min
Makes 1 x 25cm tart
For the pastry
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp caster sugar
¼ tsp salt, plus 1 pinch extra for the frangipane
165g cold butter
For the filling
110g butter, at soft room temperature
110g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra to finish
110g ground almonds
25g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
Zest of ½ lemon
9 medium apricots
20g flaked almonds
1 Homemade pastry is the best pastry
Start with the pastry. If you’re pressed for time, you could use a sweet, ready-made shortcrust here, but this version is deliciously crisp – and if you’re going to make the effort to bake a tart, I’d strongly recommend going the whole hog. After all, rolling out is the hardest part, and you have to do that anyway.
2 Make the dough, then chill
Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl or food processor, then grate in the cold butter. Rub or cut this into the flour mix, then stir in just enough cold water – one or two tablespoons should do it – to bring everything together into a dough. Wrap well and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3 Line the tart case, then chill again
Grease a roughly 25cm tart tin and roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick and big enough to line the tin. Fold it up, transfer to the tin and unfold, taking care not to stretch it.
Trim the edges, prick the base in several places with a fork, then chill for another 30 minutes.
4 Blind-bake the tart case
Meanwhile, heat the oven and a baking tray to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Line the chilled pastry shell with baking paper and weigh it down with baking beans or dried pulses.
Bake for about 15 minutes, then carefully lift out the paper and beans (remember they’ll be hot) and return to the oven for another five to seven minutes, until golden. Take out of the oven and turn down the heat to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4.
5 Start on the frangipane
While the pastry is baking, start on the frangipane. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl or food mixer, and cream with beaters or a wooden spoon until really soft and fluffy.
Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then, with the motor (or your spoon) still going, slowly incorporate them bit by bit until you have a smooth batter.
6 Finish the frangipane
In a medium bowl, whisk the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt, then fold into the frangipane mix along with the lemonzest (if it’s waxed, as most non-organic fruit is, give it a quick scrub under the hot tap before zesting, to get rid of some of that coating).
7 Now for the fruit
Cut the apricots in half lengthways, remove and discard the stones, then cut all but one of the fruits into wedges. Spoon the frangipane into the pastry case, level the surface, then carefully arrange the apricot wedges in concentric, overlapping circles on top.
Cut the last apricot in half and put one half cut side down in the middle (eat the other half, or use it to patch up any gaps).
8 Bake the tart …
Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, bake for 25 minutes, then scatter the flaked almonds over the top and bake for about another five minutes, until both the nuts and the frangipane below are golden and the latter is firm, but not hard, to the touch. Leave to cool to warm before removing the tart from its tin.
9 … and serve
This is lovely on its own, or with Greek yoghurt, cream or vanilla ice-cream, but I think it goes particularly well with thyme creme fraiche: put 150g creme fraiche in a bowl and stir in a tablespoon of honey. Strip the leaves off a couple of sprigs of thyme, roughly chop, then stir into the mix and add more honey to taste.