Apricots nestled in a rich custard and baked inside a crisp, almondy pastry – this luxury recipe is best served on the day of making, with extra crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream if you’re feeling indulgent – not that it needs it, of course!
For the pastry
150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g ground almonds
50g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
a good pinch of sea salt
½ tablespoon iced water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
1 medium egg yolk, lightly beaten
For the filling
750g–1kg apricots, washed, dried, halved and stoned
1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
250ml crème fraîche
1 medium egg
2 medium egg yolks
115g caster sugar
50g flaked almonds
icing sugar, to decorate
22cm fluted tart tin, 4cm deep
Start by making the pastry. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, ground almonds, sugar, butter and salt until there are only a very few small streaks of butter visible. Tip into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Mix the water with the lemon juice or vinegar and add to the bowl with the egg yolk. Bring the dough together using a palette knife and then, using your hands, gather the dough into a ball, being careful not to overwork it. Flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for a good couple of hours until firm.
Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry into a disc at least 4cm larger all round than the tart tin. Carefully roll the pastry up around the rolling pin and unroll into the tin, ensuring that it is centrally positioned. Press the dough into the corners and flutes of the tin and trim off any excess from the top using a sharp knife. Prick the base with a fork and chill for 20 minutes while you prepare the filling and preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas mark 5. Place a solid baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven.
Arrange the apricot halves cut-side uppermost in tight concentric circles, each slightly overlapping, in the pastry case. If using, split the vanilla pod in half down its length with a small sharp knife and scrape the seeds into a bowl, or add the vanilla bean paste. Add the crème fraîche, whole egg, yolks and caster sugar and whisk until smooth. Slowly pour the custard around the apricots, scatter with the flaked almonds and slide the tart onto the hot baking tray. Bake for about 1 hour until the pastry is golden brown, the custard puffed and set and the apricots starting to brown at the edges. You may need to turn the tart around halfway through to ensure that it cooks evenly.
Leave to cool to room temperature and serve with a light dusting of icing sugar.