crostata di albicocca e mandorle
apricot and almond tart
I’ve had all the best intentions to share this recipe with each summer (it’s only taken 5 years)! Alleluia, finalement, it’s here and well worth the wait I assure you!
There are two memories etched deep in my mind; both involve apricots! The first is of little me sitting under our family apricot tree, stuffing my face with apricots! The total amount is unclear, however the pile of apricot kernels is sizeable! There truly is nothing like it; fresh plump apricots plucked straight off the umbilical cord! The skin is velvety, while the flesh – a cross, depending on it’s ripeness, between soft or sightly firm. The flavour starts sweet and ends with a mild tartness (again depending on it’s maturity). The second memory, I am older, 25 years of age and travelling through Turkey with both varieties of apricots, fresh and dried, stuffed in my pack. There is not a summer that goes by where I haven’t relived either of these souvenirs!
Whilst I love apricots just as they are, employing them baked in a tart like this, elevates their flavour to another level, particularly when accompanied alongside a buttery flaky puff pastry and almond frangipane. Serve with a scoop of vanilla gelato or a dollop of double cream and you have created a baking masterpiece.
A few little notes: do not be scared of this pastry (actually never be scared of any pastry!!!) – it is very forgiving as long as you allow it to rest! The almond frangipane is also very durable and won’t split when adding the egg as the almond meal will assist in bringing together the two fats – the butter and the eggs!
265g butter, unsalted, cold (but softened a little), diced
375g plain flour
1 pinch sea salt, fine
40g egg, yolks
40g egg, whole
40g caster sugar
60g milk, full-cream
125g butter, unsalted, very soft (left out overnight)
25g plain flour, sifted
125g almond meal, sifted
125g pure icing sugar, sifted
2 whole eggs (room temperature)
1 egg yolk (room temperature)
handful of almond flakes (optional)
6-7 apricots, halved or sliced
- Weigh out ingredients – weigh the whole egg, egg yolk, sugar and milk together and stir well to ensure sugar has dissolved in liquid. Keep in fridge as must be kept cold. Weigh flour and salt and place on a clean surface. Scatter cubes of cold butter throughout flour. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, or if you have a pastry cutter – use it to ‘chop’ the butter into the flour. Ensure to keep the butter lumpy throughout the pastry. Work quickly to ensure the butter does not melt. Leave lumps of butter the size of small hazelnuts in the flour.
- Make a well in the centre of the mixture and then pour in - the egg, sugar & milk mixture. Use your fingertips to gradually pull flour into the centre until all the liquid has been absorbed. You can use your pastry cutter or scraper to help combine by ‘cutting or chopping’ through the dough. Aim is to have a chunky crumb, not breadcrumbs and butter not melted through the dough.
- Then place chunky crumbs in a heaped line, parallel with your body, and using the heel of your hand, slide the crumbs on the bench away from your body in a sweeping motion – in long strides. Aim is to layer (or laminate) the butter through the dough. To layer the butter through the loose dough is known as the French technique called Fraisage.
- Once completed, using quick swift movements, combine loose dough together to form one dough - even out with the palm of your hands into a rectangle shape (about 20cm x 30cm) of about 2cm high. Wrap in cling and allow to rest in fridge overnight or at least 3 hours.
- After rest time, roll out piece of dough on lightly floured surface until 3mm thick and then using rolling pin, roll pastry up around the rolling pin and then unroll pastry over flan tin – use a 22-24cm flan tin. Allow to rest in flan tin and in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (overnight is good too).
- Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional oven). Take out of refrigerator the rested pastry and cover with baking paper or alfoil and baking beads (fill your pastry to the top with baking beads) and blind bake for 30-35 minutes. Take out of oven and remove baking beads with alfoil. Return pastry to the oven (reduce oven heat to 160°C) and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until pastry is a pale golden colour all over. Take out of oven and allow to cool (return alfoil & baking beads to the pastry while cooling to assist in maintaining pastry structure). Once ready, fill with frangipane filling.
- Meanwhile, prepare the frangipane. Place butter in bowl of an electronic mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix the butter on medium to high speed until pale, smooth & creamy (2-3 mins).
- Add in sifted almond meal & pure icing sugar and continue beating until pale & fluffy (2-3 mins).
- Slowly add the lightly whisked eggs (a little at a time), making sure each addition is incorporated before adding more. Also ensure to scrape the sides after each new addition. When all of the egg is added – it should look fluffy, pale in colour and creamy. Gently fold in the flour until combined.
- Spread frangipane batter in the cooled blind baked pastry case, filling 2/3 of the tart shell. Smooth out the frangipane & place halved apricots (inner flesh facing upwards or bums facing upwards – you choose) around the top and then sprinkle with almond flakes (if you wish to add). Return tart to a preheated oven at 175°C conventional heat and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the almond franigpane is baked through and a golden colour. Pastry needs to be baked to a dark golden brown colour. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes. Remove from tin and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature with a scoop of dollop double cream or homemade ice cream or vanilla gelato.