I’m something of a heretic when it comes to apricots. Unless they come perfectly ripe to the hand from the tree, I think these gorgeous glowing globes taste better when they’re cooked. Cooking seems to bring out that wonderful contrasting sharp/sweet flavour.
We managed to bring some apricots back from Central Otago, and I wanted to use them for dessert to serve a visitor from Britain. I remembered that the friend I consider to be the finest private cook I know uses a recipe that involves sprinkling ground almonds on a round of pastry, putting the cut fruit on top and folding in the overhang to make a rough tart or galette. So I went hunting online and came up with a recipe from Alice Waters. I could have made the pastry myself, using her recipe or one from Dean Brettschneider, but I didn’t have time, so I bought sweet short pastry instead.
I also adapted the almond mixture that goes on the pastry first – Waters had more flour. The point of this mixture isn’t just to add the almond flavour, which goes so well with apricots, it’s to absorb the juice from the fruit so there’s no soggy bottom. As the pictures show, this really is quite a “rough” tart – that’s part of its charm.
Apricot galette (Adapted from Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Fruit, Harpercollins)
Enough home-made or bought short sweet pastry to make a circle roughly the size of a medium dinner plate
2 Tbsps ground almonds
1 tsp plain flour
1 Tbsp plus 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp white sugar
6 – 8 ripe apricots (depending on size – they should not be the very biggest ones, and small ones are fine. It doesn’t matter if they’re just a little soft, but they shouldn’t be really hard.)
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Apricot jam (optional)
To serve: cream, icecream or yoghurt (optional)
Preheat oven to 200C. (If using a fan oven, set it to 190C, fan bake.)
Roll out the dough to a circle about 35cm across. It’s a good idea to do this on a piece of baking paper large enough to fit the oven tray you are using. Put the pastry on the paper in the fridge and chill for at least 15 minutes.
Mix the ground almonds, flour, and 1 Tbsp of the sugar together.
Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones..
Remove the prerolled pastry on the paper from the fridge, and place carefully on the oven tray.
Very gently mark out a circle on it, leaving a border at least 5cm wide all round. (Don’t cut into the pastry.)
Sprinkle the almond mixture evenly over the circle.
Arrange the fruit, skin-side-down, in concentric circles on the dough, making a single layer of snugly touching pieces, leaving the border bare. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar evenly over the fruit.
While rotating the tart, fold the border of exposed pastry up and over the fruit to enclose it snugly round the edges. Make sure there are no breaks in the pastry so that no juice can leak out.
Brush the folded-over border with the melted butter, and sprinkle it with the last 1 Tbsp of sugar.Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 30 minutes, until the crust is well browned and its edges are crisp and slightly caramelized.
As soon as the galette is out of the oven, slide it on its paper onto a cooling rack, to keep it from getting soggy. Let cool for 15 minutes.
If you want to glaze the tart, brush the fruit lightly with a little warmed apricot jam. Serve warm, with a little whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or yoghurt if you like.
I didn’t glaze mine (actually, I forgot) but I don’t think it’s necessary – the apricots look so beautiful on their own, with tiny brown bits around the edges. This is a slightly lurid photo – it was dark by the time I took it – but you get the idea. As you can see, I left it a little too long in the oven so it got a bit dark around the edges, but it really didn’t matter – those crunchy bits tasted great.