This is the perfect dessert to end a spectacular winter dinner.
Rich shortcrust pastry 225g (8 oz) standard flour A pinch of salt 1 Tbsp caster sugar 150g (about 5½ oz) unsalted butter, firm but pliable, cubed 1 medium (size 6) free-range egg yolk, at room temperature 4-5 Tbsp chilled water Filling 190g (about 6½ oz) pitted prunes 2 Tbsp brandy or cognac 3 Tbsp water 200g (7 oz) unsalted butter, softened 200g (7 oz) caster sugar 2 large (size 7) free-range eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks 210g (about 7½ oz) ground almonds 4 Tbsp standard flour Glaze 150ml (5 fl oz) sieved apricot jam, warmed and strained 1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 To make the pastry, sift flour, salt and sugar together then transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add butter and process briefly until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Mix egg yolk and 4 tablespoons of water together and pour into the processor through the feed tube. Pulse until mixture gathers in large clumps. If you don’t have a food processor, put flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and cut the butter through the flour using 2 metal knives or a pastry blender, then rub in with the fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk mixed with 5 tablespoons of water and mix to a dough. Tip dough onto a dry lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
There are heaps of great pastry notes here Pastry
2 Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Roll out pastry into a large round on a large piece of lightly floured baking (parchment) paper. Have ready a 28cm (11”) loose-bottomed flan tin set on a baking sheet (tray) lined with baking paper. Have another baking sheet heating in the bottom third of the oven. Turn the pastry into flan tin, push it gently into the edges of the tin (dip fingers in flour if they are sticky), then peel off the paper. Roll off excess pastry. Prick base with a fork. Chill until firm.
3 Line pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Slide flan and paper off cold baking sheet onto heated baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until pastry is set in place and has colouring around the rim.
4 Put prunes in a small saucepan with brandy and water, cover with a lid and set pan on a very low heat. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, making sure the liquid doesn’t evaporate.
5 To make the frangipane filling, whip butter and sugar together in a food processor until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. With machine running, gradually whip in the whole eggs and egg yolks, adding a little of the flour from time to time, then the ground almonds and remaining flour. Spoon frangipane into partially cooked pastry case and spread it out evenly with a knife. Dot with prunes, pressing them to the bottom of the pastry. Bake for about 30 minutes or until frangipane is golden brown and set and the pastry is cooked. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes.
6 To make the apricot glaze, heat apricot jam and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Dissolve gently then bring to a bubble. Brush over surface of tart. Leave dessert to cool before removing from flan tin. Cut into slices with a serrated knife and serve with crème frâiche or yoghurt.
It may be easier to make the pastry and line it into the tin a day ahead, or earlier – simply freeze it and thaw briefly before cooking; keep pastry well wrapped to prevent it drying out.