Fresh apricot tart
Baked in a plain short crust, this dessert spotlights the delicious apricot in all its grandeur.
I found the most amazingly deep-colored apricots in the market, a variety I hadn’t seen yet. Their flavor is true to the promise of their enchanting color, filling the senses with the essence of fresh apricot when you bite one. It made me realize how often we settle for just a hint of flavor in today’s fruit, accepting fleshiness and juice in exchange for those original strong tastes which go away in refrigerated storage. Or get sacrificed for varieties that travel well and keep a few days longer in the supermarkets.
While happily snacking on the little fresh golden globes, I visualized an apricot tart in a plain short crust. Something to show the fruit off, without a lot of fancy added ingredients to compete for your attention. Although a flourish of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side wouldn’t distract from the apricotish wonderfulness of it. (When did whipped cream and ice cream ever go wrong?)
So of course I turned to Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking book and found the recipe. It’s almost all apricot, pure and simple, with a touch of vanilla that complements the fruit so well. I forgot to dust the edges of the tart with sugar before baking, but I served this tart to the discriminating ladies of the book club, and it had their approval.
Can’t do better than that, unless you, reader, bake it too, and let me know how much you liked it.
- 1 pound fresh apricots
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1-2 tablespoon water
- Zest of one-half medium lemon
For the apricot filling
For the crust
Method for pastry crust:
Preheat oven to 450° F (230° C).
In the food processor: Blend the butter into the flour. Add the sugar and lemon zest and process until the mixture looks sandy. Add the yolk and 1 tablespoon of water. If the dough is flexible and holds together well, add no more water. If it’s not coming together, add water by teaspoons, processing after each addition and stopping when a ball of dough forms.
By hand: Sift the flour into a large bowl. Rub the butter into it until sandy. Add sugar and mix well. Add beaten yolk, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of water. Add more water by teaspoons to make a flexible dough. Knead lightly for a few minutes.
Roll the dough out lightly on a floured surface. Place it in a greased tart or pie pan. If your kitchen is very warm, put it in the fridge for the few minutes it takes to prepare the filling.
Method for apricot filling:
Halve the apricots and remove the pits. Set them to macerate in the sugar and vanilla while preparing the crust.
Cook the apricots, with any juices, covered, over low heat for 5 minutes.
Remove the apricots from the liquid. Keep the liquid in the pan.
Arrange the apricot halves in a circle on the pastry. Dust the edges with sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Lower the heat to 375° F (190° C) and bake 30-40 minutes longer, until the crust is baked.
While the tart is in the oven, reduce the liquid from the cooked apricots to a syrup by boiling it down. If there are only a few tablespoons to begin with, augment it by adding 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and cooking it all down together.
When the tart is baked, remove it from the oven and pour the syrup over it.