It’s been two months since I last posted! And that means it’s been–no way–two months since I last baked?! The past few weeks were a jumble of wrapping up the sailing season, awards nights, other senior activities, and graduation. It’s all over now, and I am quite enjoying my bliss in which I do absolutely nothing all day.
This weekend, my mom and I were grocery shopping, and she said she wanted me to bake something. I rarely bake specifically for my mom; she likes “motherly” desserts like fruit pies, while I normally bake cookies and brownies to satisfy my own teenage cravings.
I asked her what she wanted, and she said, “something with nuts on top.” After digging through my trusty Flour cookbook, I hit the grocery store for ingredients for an apricot almond tart, per mom’s request.
This tart is more of a pie than a tart. I hate when cookbooks don’t have photos for each recipe because I don’t know what to expect as a result. Luckily, I am confident enough in my culinary skills (thanks to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts) to just go with the flow. It’s kind of fun when there’s no “end result” to expect; that way, I can make the pastry the way I envision it.
I am happy to say that not only did this tart turn out absolutely gorgeous, but it blew my family away with it’s taste. We devoured half of it that night for dessert. The crust is pâte sucrée, which is more like a shortbread than an actual pie crust. Making it brought me back to my summer days in culinary school a few years back, where I first learned what pâte sucrée even was.
The filling consists of a thick layer of frangipane (a ground almond mixture), a generous layer of apricot jam, and lots and lots of chopped apricots. It’s topped with sliced almonds (love ’em), layered with strips of more pâte sucrée, brushed with egg wash, and sprinkled with sugar. Summery perfection in a tart.
This process takes a while, not because it is complicated, but because it requires a bit of waiting between steps for chilling purposes. That being said, it’s totally worth it, and it’s one of the most visually impressive things I’ve baked outside of culinary school. Plus it’ll make your mom really happy.
Recipe (modified from Flour by Joanne Chang) – makes 1 ten-inch tart
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp flour
- 1/8 tsp vanilla
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup (about 10 oz) apricot jam
- 8 apricots, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1 egg, beaten
- Sanding sugar
- Make the frangipane: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light. Add the almond flour and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, vanilla, and salt, and mix until combined. Set aside.
- Make the pâte sucrée: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Add the egg yolks and mix until the dough comes together.
- Gather the dough into a flat ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Split the dough to return 1/3 of it to the refrigerator. Allow the remaining 2/3 to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes (depending on how warm your kitchen is).
- Bang the dough into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Flour your work surface and roll the disk into a circle about 12-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Make sure the dough is well floured so it doesn’t stick to the work surface.
- Transfer the dough circle to the tart ring by gently rolling it onto the rolling pin. It is okay if it breaks. Patch up any holes and trim the edge. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the ring.
- Refrigerate the tart shell for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F with a center rack.
- Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the frangipane evenly on the bottom of the tart shell. Bake for 15 minutes, and remove from the oven (keep the oven on).
- Transfer the apricot jam into a bowl, and beat it with a fork to make it spreadable. Spread the jam evenly on top of the baked frangipane layer. Place the apricot chunks on top in an even layer. Sprinkle the almond slices on top.
- Remove the remaining dough from the refrigerator, and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Flour your work surface. Roll the dough into a 10-inch by 5-inch rectangle, 1/4-inch thick. Use a pizza wheel to cut ten 1/2-inch wide strips lengthwise. Transfer 5 strips to the tart, evenly spaced one way. Transfer the other 5 strips to the tart, evenly spaced at a 45° angle to the other strips. Trim the edges of the strips.
- Brush the strips with egg wash, and sprinkle sanding sugar on top, generously.
- Bake for 50 minutes, or until the dough strips are golden brown. Do not under-bake, or the crust will be chewy. Cool for 2 hours before serving.