By Elizabeth Gawthrop Riely This beautiful tart, based on a recipe in Patricia Wells at Home in Provence, combines the luscious flavors of southern France with convenience. The method for the crust, using little equipment, reduces the usual steps and stops, so it’s perfect for a vacation dessert when you’re traveling light and want to be outside. You can omit the custard altogether, glazing the fruit with melted and strained apricot jam.
Makes 8 servings.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 1/3 cup sugar Pinch salt 1 1/4 cups flour 2 tablespoons sliced or ground toasted almonds (unsalted)
1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/2 cup heavy cream or more 2 tablespoons honey 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional) About 2 pounds apricots
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Smear 1 scant tablespoon butter on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Put all the remaining butter in a medium-sized pot and gently melt; let it cool a bit. Stir in the sugar, then the salt and flour, just enough to make a smooth dough. Transfer the dough into the tart pan; with your fingers press it onto the sides and over the bottom to form a thin crust. Bake the crust shell, set on a sheet, for 12-15 minutes, until set and slightly puffy (press down to deflate any puff). Take it out and scatter the nuts over the bottom.
While the crust is baking, lightly beat the egg in a bowl with the honey; stir in the cream and almond extract. Halve or quarter the apricots. Starting on the outside edge of the tart, place them cut side up, slightly angled and overlapping, and a bit crowded as they will shrink in cooking. Make two or three concentric circles around the center; you may not need all these apricots. Stir the custard again and pour it evenly over the fruit. Place the tart on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, until it turns a rich gold and the custard starts to color. Let it cool slightly before serving, cut in wedges.