Summer is here, really here! We are melting away in the streets of Paris as I write these lines. And while I did this, it occurred to me that baking on this hot hot day was probably not the best of ideas. On the other hand I now have a delicious apricot tart sitting on my counter, waiting for the vanilla ice cream I will most definitely add to it. Not to mention the fact that my friends will be delighted as dessert is ready for tonight’s dinner party! Overall, not too bad.
“Tarte aux abricots” is one of the many classics in French pastry, you can find it in almost every bakery or “boulangerie” (this is where they sell the bread here in France, and some other yummy treats!). It consists of a sablée dough, frangipane cream and apricots.
It was one of the first things I learned how to do at Pastry School when I first got to France. It was also one of the many things I had to do for my final exam at Ecole Lenôtre. Because you don’t mess around with apricot tart, and also because it allows teachers to evaluate certain techniques: lining a tart ring, making a pastry cream (key component of the frangipane cream), making a sablée pastry.
It’s easy to make, and supper delicious. My intention was to have something fresher, with different flavors, perfect for a summer dessert. I stirred away from the classic form, slightly… Searching for a way to make it more “summery”, I removed the almond frangipane cream, and added some other things. You’ll have to make it and test it for yourselves.
For the Sablée Dough:
(This was adapted from the Pate Sablée recipe I learned at Ecole Lenôtre in Paris! The best pate sablée I ever tasted. If you want to make it even better, you can add a little vanilla).
Butter 80 g
Salt 4 g
Powdered sugar 45 g
Almond flour 20 g
Egg 30 g
All purpose flour 33 g
All purpose Flour 100 g
For the Crumble:
Butter 25 g
Brown Sugar 25 g
Salt a pinch
Almond flour 30 g
All purpose flour 20 g
Roasted hazelnuts 20 g
For the Filling:
Apricots 450 g
Brown sugar 60 g
Orange 1/2 u
Vanilla Bean 1 u
Cardamom 5 g
Butter 20 g
If you are using a stand mixer:
Using the paddle attachment, bring the butter to a consistency of mayonnaise or “beurre pommade” to use French terminology. Dissolve the salt in the egg. Mix together the powdered sugar and the almond flour.
Add the powdered sugar mixture to the butter and mix it together at a low speed. Incorporate the egg and the small amount of flour, mix together. Make sure to scrape de bottom of your bowl!!
Finally add the big amount of flour, mix until it’s incorporated into the batter. You shouldn’t mix very long. We want to prevent the activation of the gluten in the flour, because we don’t want the dough to become elastic! (It will shrink when in the oven!).
Form a rectangle about 2 cm tall (it’s easier to roll it out after); wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you can do it the day before, even better!
If you are using your hands:
In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and add the butter (cold cold) cut into small cubes.
Using your fingertips, break down the butter, until you obtain a sandy, grainy consistency. There should be pieces of butter still visible, and the color of the dry ingredients has changed towards a more yellowy tone.
Add the egg and mix using one finger.
Transfer the dough onto your working surface and using the palm of your hand to smear the dough and obtain a homogeneous mixture. (The technical French term is “fraiser”). You can repeat the operation up to 3 or 4 times.
Form a rectangle of about 2 cm tall (it’s easier to roll it our after); wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. If you can do it the day before, even better!
Break down and roast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes at 170 C.
Mix all of the ingredients together until you obtain a homogeneous dough.
Roll out to 1/2 cm, in between two pieces of parchment paper and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Pre-heat the oven at 170 C.
Transfer the crumble on to a baking sheet and remove the top parchment paper. Bake until brown (about 15 minutes).
Transfer onto a cooling rack.
Cut the apricots in halves and remove the pits (if you get a larger size apricot, cut it into quarters). Transfer onto a bowl.
Zest and squeeze the juice of half an orange onto the apricots. Add the rest of the ingredients (cardamom, vanilla and sugar, EXCEPT FOR THE BUTTER) and toss together. Refrigerate for half an hour.
For the Assembly of the Tart:
Roll out the sablée dough to about 0.3 mm. Line a 20 cm tart ring or mold.
Strain the apricots and keep the maceration liquid.
Dispose the apricots onto the dough, and fold the edges of the dough onto the filling.
Cut the butter in small pieces and place over the apricots. Also add some of the maceration liquid (not all and not a lot!).
Bake at 170 C for 45 minutes approximately.
Transfer onto a cooling rack and immediately brush the whole tart with the maceration liquid to make it shine :)
Break down the crumble and sprinkle on top of the tart once it has cooled off.
Remember to turn your baking sheet half way through the estimated baking time so that the tart cooks evenly.
Also, every oven is different, so make sure to check your tart from time and again, it might take longer to cook, but it might also cook in under 45 minutes! Be alert.
Use the maceration liquid as a sauce when serving each portion.
If you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream... Perfection!