Sunday, July 10, 2005

Apricot Tart

It should probably read Upside-down Apricot Tart since tarts usually have just one crust and that usually on the bottom. This one crust is on the top. At least it's cooked on the top, but I end up serving it on the bottom. I like the crisp, flaky, golden brown of a crust exposed to the dry heat of a roasting oven, not the wet heat of boiling fruit syrup pressing down on it as it tries to mature into the pastry it was meant to be. I guess I could precook it, but it inevitably sucks up its fruit baggage and ends up soggy. Besides, precooking requires two steps, this just one. And I'm all for efficiency during a season when I'd rather be outside picking the fruit than inside supervising its renderings.

Ingredients (To fill a 9-inch pie pan):

2 lb. fresh apricots
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1 tbsp. all purpose flour

1/2 Basic Pie Crust recipe

Egg white wash:
     1 egg white
     1 tbsp. milk
     1/4 tsp. sugar


1   Prepare the Basic Pie Crust.

2   Wash, pit and slice the apricots into 1/2-inch wedges, about 8 slices per apricot. Leave the skin on the fruit.

Note: I used 12 medium-sized apricots for this tart. After seeing how much they deflated when cooked, I'd probably increase the amount next time.

3   Toss the apricots with the sugar, honey, lemon juice, almond extract, and flour and let marinate in the pie pan for at least 30 minutes, stirring periodically.

Note: That's an unretouched photo above. My apricots really were that brilliant. There's nothing like using fruits at the height of their season.

4   Preheat oven to 400°F.

5   Remove pie crust square from refrigerator. Allow to warm for about 5 minutes to assist rolling. Place onto the middle of two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap, and cover with two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap. Roll through the plastic wrap into an approximately 13-inch round. Peel off top wrap, position dough over apricots in pan, and peel off bottom wrap. Trim overhanging dough and finish by pressing with a fork, fluting with your fingers, folding back over fruit, leaving freeform, or any way you may be inspired.

Note: Although this process keeps plastic wrap manufacturers in business, it's an efficient way to work pastry dough. There's no sticking to your rolling pin or the counter, you won't heat the dough by handling it directly, and it's easy to place onto the pie pan. There's just one trick to the plastic-wrap technique: peel the wrap off and replace it periodically as you roll (both top piece and bottom piece) to prevent stretching the dough instead of rolling it. Stretching will produce a tougher pastry. You can easily flip the dough, rearrange the plastic, roll, and flip again.

6   Make slits in crust. Brush top with egg-white wash.

7   Place pie onto a cookie sheet to catch drippings. Bake at 400°F. for 30 minutes or until fruit bubbles through slits and crust is golden.

8   Cool for at least an hour before serving. I slice a piece and turn it upside-down on the plate, scooping extra apricot filling onto the top, sometimes using the crust as a scoop or pusher. My mouth is watering as I type this.

No comments: