I’ve just spent a week in England, moving our furniture into storage, as the sale of our house completed on Friday. The weather in the UK was absolutely glorious – miles better than here, where I was welcomed back by one of the very chilly winds that are a speciality of this area – one that had come down straight over the Russian Steppes, then the freezing cold Black Sea, with a quick pass over the snowy mountains that form the entire Turkish interior between here and the north coast. By the time it reaches us, it would freeze the Sahara.
Linda came for supper at the weekend – well, a girl’s got to catch up on the gossip – so proper food was required. A quick trawl of the fridge revealed an unopened ball of mozzarella (a rare sight around these parts, unopened or otherwise), a few olives, a fennel bulb and some red onions. It’s also possible that some strictly-forbidden-by-Turkish-Customs Parma ham may have climbed into my bag when I passed through M&S Simply Food, as I dragged my sorry sleep-deprived self through Gatwick at some ungodly hour on Saturday morning. (Having a night out in London with my girlfriends the previous evening seemed less of a good idea when my alarm went off at 5am – must remind myself more frequently that I am not 20 any more.) Homemade pizza seemed just the ticket – easy to make and only requiring a bowl of salad on the side – no spud-bashing for me in my weakened state.
That seemed a little on the frugal side for a Sunday supper, so I decided to make my favourite tart for pud. I have featured it elsewhere on this blog, but that was ages ago, and I’ve also tweaked the recipe a little, so I feel it is reasonable to include it again – especially as it is my absolute favourite favourite. I’m just thinking of you – imagine going through life not knowing this existed. Do make it, you will definitely thank me. It is delicious made with plums too. Or pears and chocolate chips. Or raspberries and blueberries. Or just add the jam and sprinkle the top with flaked almonds or pistachios. The cake part is also nice just baked on its own with a cup of tea (don’t bake the tea, the kettle will be fine for that).
You can most definitely make this using ready-made shortcrust or sweet pastry to line the tin – I would if I lived in a country where supermarkets stocked it. Our supermarket here hardly manages to stock the bare essentials these days – presumably another by-product of our collapsing economy – not that shortcrust pastry features anywhere in Turkish cuisine in any case. Otherwise, I’ve given the recipe below for my super-reliable shortcrust pastry (which isn’t my recipe at all – it comes from ‘The French Kitchen’ by Joanne Harris, but I use it for absolutely everything and I am sure she won’t mind if you or I borrow it). I must confess at this point that I discovered I had no butter in the fridge, so I made the pastry using block margarine – it’s actually easier to handle (good for nervous pastry novices) and really didn’t taste any different.
Apricot frangipane tart
Makes one oblong tart 11cm x 35cm
Shortcrust pastry (see recipe below)
2 – 3 tablespoons apricot jam (or other jam of your choice to complement your fruit)
100g soft butter or margarine
A few spots of almond extract
60g ground almonds
60g self-raising flour
4 – 5 apricots, stoned and cut into quarters
Flaked almonds and icing sugar for sprinkling
You will need an oblong tart tin, approx 11cm x 35cm
Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Grease the tart tin by brushing all over with oil, then line the tin with the shortcrust pastry.
Carefully push the pastry into the corners and trim the edges.
Spoon the jam into the pastry case and spread thinly (don’t be tempted to use too much or it will be difficult to spread the topping and the jam may bubble up through the frangipane). My jam was homemade with big pieces of fruit – smooth would have been better!
Put the softened butter or margarine, the sugar, egg and almond extract into a mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.
Stir in the flour and ground almonds – the mixture will be quite stiff (this is good – too runny and your fruit will sink).
Dollop the topping onto the top of the jam, then spread evenly, using a table knife or the back of a spoon.
Arrange the apricot quarters (or other fruit) neatly on the top (mine was frozen). Sprinkle with flaked almonds and then generously sieve some icing sugar over the top.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the topping is a deep golden brown and the fruit has started to caramelise.
For the pastry:
(Makes enough pastry for 4 tarts of this size or 3 round tarts 25cm diameter)
250g plain flour
175g butter or block margarine, cold from the fridge, cut into cubes
Put the flour and cubed cold butter/margarine into a food processor.
Process for about 30 seconds until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Crack the egg into the mix, fill one half of the eggshell with cold water and add to the mix (obviously just the water, not the shell).
Process again, using the ‘pulse’ action, until the pastry starts to come together – it will take another 30 seconds or so.
Tip the pastry out, very gently press the pastry together and flatten into a disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is good).
(If you don’t have a food processor, cut the butter into tiny cubes and then rub gently into the flour with your fingertips until you have the required breadcrumb texture. Beat the egg with the water, tip into the mix and stir firmly with a table knife until the dough comes together – you will probably have to finish this process with your hand. Don’t be tempted to add more water or your dough will shrink when it is cooked.)
Once the dough has been rested in the fridge, cut the dough into four, roll one of the pieces into a sausage shape, then roll out to fit your tin.
Make sure your tin is well greased, then line the tin with the dough, pressing it into the corners and trimming the dough once it is in the tin. Wrap the other three pieces of the dough and freeze for another time.
VERY IMPORTANT: Refrigerate the pastry case while you make the topping, or for a bit longer if you can (I often do the pastry bit the day before).