[A midsummer dinner – Apricot and pistachio tart]
I had a pâton of pâte sucrée in the fridge. And a little bag of roasted pistachios a friend brought back from Lebanon. And of course, too many apricots sitting on the counter.
An hour later, all this turned into a tart.
The kind of tarts that are simple and rustic. And yet, ever so delicious. We had a piece still warm from the oven for lunch. And another for dinner, after a baguette garlic steak sandwich that was so good I want to remember it forever. Inside, thick slices of juicy steak with plenty of grated garlic, a dollop of cancoillotte, and salad leaves from the garden.
With a glass of rosé and a few radishes we’d just picked, it was fairly close to the perfect summer dinner.
A few hundreds kilometres away, my friend Anna-Sarah* is having her very own perfect dinner. On a péniche [houseboat] with never-ending glasses of champagne. It’s her birthday and I wish her the happiest one ever.
And if I’m lucky enough, I might even join her on the boat next week-end. Just before I fly back to London. And step into whites again. At the Capital, to give a hand to my friend Richard Hondier who’s now running the kitchen and plating the most delightful dishes I’ve ever seen. And really, I can’t wait.
* You might know that Anna-Sarah hates apricots, she’s already told me off when I posted this a few days after she’d left (of the I-see-you’re-waiting-until-I’m-gone-to-write-about-apricots kind), so sharing an apricot recipe on her birthday, let’s hope she forgives me!
Tarte à l’abricot et à la pistache
This tart is super-quick to put together. Especially if you have some pâte sucrée ready in your fridge or your freezer. I know I always do, and this way, dessert is almost always less than an hour away.
There is nothing tricky. Pastry, crème d’amandes, fruits, and a little glaze. Ah, yes, just a quick word on crème d’amandes, a stapple in French pâtisseries. I forgot to include it in this list, and really it should be there. The mistake has been corrected since more often than not, you’ll find crèmes d’amandes that feeleither too buttery or too spongy. And most of the times, it even gets called frangipane, and trust me, crème d’amandes in no frangipane.
To make a gorgeous crème d’amandes, you just have to make sure the eggs are at room temperature. I keep my eggs in the fridge, so they never are. If you add them fridge-cold to the creamed butter, the mixture will split and might leak butter during baking. The trick I use is so simple it hurts. I just place the eggs in hot water – of the tap kind – while I cream the butter and sugar for several minutes. And then, one egg at a time, with a good two minutes of beating in between to bind the emulsion, and make it smooth and airy.
Now, enough words for such a doodle of a recipe…
Tarte à l’abricot et à la pistache
for the pâte sucrée
130 g butter, at room temperature
95 g icing sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30 g ground almonds
250 g plain flour
Cream the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds. And the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Tip in the flour and mix until just combined.
Flatten the dough and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for at least 3 hours – or up to 5 days – before using. Or keep frozen, for up to 3 months.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 4mm-thick rectangle. Carefully wrap the dough around your rolling pin and place on top of a 10x30cm tart tin. Line the tart case with the dough, then trim the edges. Place in the freezer while you get on with the crème d’amandes.
for the pistachio crème d’amandes
80 g butter, at room temperature
100 g caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
60 g ground almonds
60 g roasted pistachio, roughly ground
30 g plain flour
for the montage
8 apricots, halved and stoned
1 tablespoon apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, for 8-10 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl every now and then. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well – at least 2 minutes – after each addition.
Tip in the ground almonds and pistachios, then the flour and mix until just combined. Scrape the crème d’amandes into a piping bag fitted with a 12mm nozzle and pipe the cream at the bottom of the prepared tart case.
Arrange the apricots halves, cut-side up onto the crème d’amandes and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
In a small pan, place the apricot jam with a little water and bring to the boil. Gently brush this glaze over the hot tart, and allow the tart to cool down at room temperature. Slice into wedges and serve, perhaps with a scoop of ice-cream or a dollop of whipped cream.