Here's a dessert that everyone will fall in love with.
Rich shortcrust pastry
225g (8 ounces) standard flour
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp caster (superfine granulated) sugar
170g (6 ounces) unsalted butter, firm pliable, cubed
1 medium (size 6) free- range egg yolk
4 Tbsp chilled water
150g (5-6 ounces) dried apricots
3 Tbsp cognac (or brandy)
75ml (5 Tbsp) water
1 x small jar apricot jam
90g (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
90g (3 ounces) caster sugar
90g (3 ounces) ground almonds
2 large (size 7) free- range eggs, lightly beaten together, at room temperature
1 level tsp cornflour
25g (about 1 ounce) slivered almonds
Crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt for serving
1 Make pastry as described here Rich shortcrust pastry then chill just until firm. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line into a 23cm (9″) loose-bottomed flan ring, or a rectangular loose-bottomed tin measuring 34cm long x 10cm wide x 2.5cm deep (approx 13″ x 4″ x 1″) . Chill until firm.
2 Soak apricots in cognac for 1 hour. Transfer to a small saucepan with water, cover with a lid and cook gently for 10 minutes.
3 Preheat oven to 180°C (fanbake). Blind bake pastry as described on page 259. Smear pastry case with apricot jam.
4 Put butter in a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric beater until soft. Add caster sugar and whisk until pale and fluffy. Add ground almonds, then gradually add beaten eggs a little at a time, adding cornflour halfway through.
5 Turn frangipane (almond mixture) into pastry case. Drain apricots, reserving any soaking juices, and arrange in frangipane, pushing them in slightly. Scatter with slivered almonds. Bake tart for about 25 minutes, until puffy and golden. Cool in flan ring for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the flan ring and ensure the tart is not stuck to the base.
6 Make apricot glaze with remaining apricot jam and lemon juice (see below), adding reserved apricot soaking juice. Brush the tart with hot apricot glaze. Remove tart from flan base when glaze is set. Serve at room temperature with dollops of crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt.
Tarts and pies are brushed with apricot glaze to give them an attractive shine and to prevent fruit spoiling.
Put 1 small (400g/14 oz) inexpensive jar of apricot jam in a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Bring to the boil, stirring, then pass through a metal sieve and discard lumps. The glaze, while hot, should drop from a spoon but leave the spoon coated. Thin it with a little water if necessary, or bubble it to reduce if it’s too thin. If making the glaze ahead, reheat it to boiling point and apply it while very hot. Leftover jam can be returned to the cleaned jam jar and stored in the fridge.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com