Apricot Frangipane Tart
Apricots and almonds have always been a match made in heaven but they are taken to new levels with this crunchy spelt pastry base and a hint of pistachio and orange blossom in the filling. This is the perfect summer tart when the apricots are in season. My mother is usually the queen of apricot tarts but I feel that at the moment I am in the league with this baby. A dollop of creme fraiche or my whipped coconut cream and it is business time.
For the pastry
330g wholegrain spelt flour
120g unrefined icing sugar
180g cold unsalted butter, diced
1 free-range medium egg yolk
For the apricots
550g apricots, ripe but still firm and holding shape, pitted and sliced in half
1 vanilla pod
50g light muscovado sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp butter
For the frangipane
150g unsalted butter, soft, diced
50g light muscovado sugar
110g unrefined caster sugar
50g pistachios, blended into a fine flour
150g almond flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon
1 tsp orange blossom water
3 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten
few shavings of nutmeg
Make the pastry by beating the spelt flour, sugar and butter in a stand mixer on a medium speed for 5 minutes, until it forms a crumbly consistency. Add the egg yolk and if the mixture looks dry add a 1 tablespoon of cold water and mix for a further 4–5 minutes. Increase the speed and beat until everything comes together into a ball. Wrap up in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Grease a 25cm loose-bottom, non-stick tart tin. Grate a thin layer of the chilled pastry to cover the bottom of the tin. Use your fingers to press and mould the pastry into a nice thin layer and grate some more for the edges. Make sure there are no gaps and the tin is neatly lined all over with pastry. This needs to be done swiftly so that the pastry doesn’t get too warm. You may have a little pastry left over which can be made into biscuits and cooked with the tart base. Line the tart pastry with baking parchment, fill the base with baking beans and bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes and then carefully remove the beans and baking parchment. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden. Remove and allow to cool
Meanwhile prepare the apricots. In a bowl add the apricot halves, the seeds from the vanilla pod including the pod, lemon juice, muscovado and mix everything together. Set a large non-stick frying pan to a medium to high heat and when hot add the apricot slices cut side down with all the contents of the bowl and fry to caramelise for about 5 minutes. Turn the halves over and cook for another 2 minutes before adding in the teaspoon of butter moving everything around the pan. The apricots should have browned a little but they should still hold their shape and not be mushy. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully place the fruit back into the bowl with all the juices.
For the frangipane, use a stand mixer or hand held electric mixer and cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – this will take about 5 minutes on a fast speed. Turn the speed to medium, gradually drizzle in the beaten eggs then mix in the ground pistachios, ground almonds, vanilla extract, nutmeg grating, orange blossom water and lemon’s zest. Carefully pour the frangipane filling into the pastry base and arrange the apricot slices in a pattern on top. A few of the apricot slices won’t fit and are to be used to decorate the tart when it is removed from the oven. Pour over any leftover juices from the fruit and carefully place the tart tin on a baking tray (to prevent any spills) and bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Remove and leave to cool, carefully remove from the tin and serve just warm. The cake will be a little gooey in the centre but this will harden when it sets. Serve with the leftover apricot slices, a few scattered pistachios or almond flakes and a dusting of unrefined icing sugar. Buono!