Although apricots are at their most abundant at this time of year, I am beginning to think that they are one of those rare fruits that are almost always better eaten cooked rather than when fresh. Admittedly, there is something rather affecting about a perfectly ripe, plump, honey-sweet apricot, firm yet yielding, with its velvet-soft skin. However, the window between flesh that is hard, crunchy and sharp and that which is too soft and powdery is one, I suspect, of a matter of hours.
This particular tart came about in part for this very reason, although its conception was also down to my efforts to clear out our chest freezer before moving house – I recently found some homemade gluten free pastry from last Christmas that needed using up (the recipe for which can be found here). This tart would work well with any seasonal stone fruit to hand – plums, peaches or cherries, perhaps – though it is also excellent with raspberries or blackberries.
For the tart
300g sweet shortcrust pastry, chilled
3-5 apricots, depending on size
2 tbsp apricot jam
2 tbsp flaked almonds
Honey, for glazing
For the frangipane filling
100g unsalted butter, softened
50g caster sugar
50g honey (I use lavender honey, but any floral honey is great)
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
100g ground almonds
1 level tablespoon plain flour
1 tbsp amaretto or sweet sherry (optional)
You will also need: 8-inch fluted tart tin
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and put a large metal tray into the oven to heat up (this will help prevent a dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ as this tart is not blind baked).
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to a thickness of a £1 coin, slightly larger than the tin. Line the base and sides of the tin (you can use a small ball of pastry to help coax the pastry in to the fluted sides of the tin to give a smooth finish). Note: gluten free pastry can be very tricky to work with. I tend to press the pastry into the tin (much like shortbread) rather than rolling it out and transferring it all in one piece (which is virtually impossible with gluten-free pastry due to the lack of elasticity).
- Chill the pastry case in the fridge whilst you make the frangipane.
- To make the frangipane, cream together the butter, sugar and honey in a large bowl using an electric hand whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix to combine – don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Add the ground almonds, flour and alcohol (if using) and mix to combine.
- Remove the pastry case from the fridge and spread the base with apricot jam. Spoon the frangipane mixture on top of the jam and carefully smooth it. Halve the apricots and arrange them prettily in the tart case, cut-side facing down, lightly pressing them into the frangipane so that they’re still visible. Sprinkle the tart with flaked almonds and then put it into the preheated oven, directly onto the heated tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and the frangipane feels firm yet springy to touch.
- Cool the tart on a wire baking rack. Once cool, place the tin on top of a can or jar, then remove the outer ring by pushing it down. Then, carefully slide a palette knife underneath to remove the base of the tin and transfer the tart to the serving plate.
- Heat a little honey in a pan to melt slightly, then use a pastry brush to glaze the tart with the honey. It is lovely served with cream, ice cream, or clotted cream for a special treat.