Apricot and Aprium Tart

Yield: One 9 inch round tart, approximately 6 servings

The first tree fruits of the season are arriving at farmers’ markets in my area. (For a source that ships farmers’ market-quality fruit all over the country, try www.melissas.com). Beyond eating the fruits out of hand (and there’s nothing wrong with that), a tart which features the fruit set into a buttery crust with a pound cake-like filling is a delicious way to show them off to best advantage, allowing their fruity intensity and juiciness to be well appreciated. Consisting of a short dough, cake filling and slices of the fruit, pitted though not peeled, this early summer dessert couldn’t be easier. The pastry dough is forgiving (with its high proportion of fat, it’s hard to overwork it) and do-aheadable, and as long as the butter is sweet, unsalted and softened at room temperature, you can’t miss.

If you would like to add one more element to the dessert plate, you can top the tart with a scoop of store-bought fresh whole milk ricotta. Or better yet, make it yourself a couple of hours before serving the tart. You can’t get any fresher than that (unless you milk the cows or sheep on your dairy farm). The recipes are all below.

For the tart dough:

2.6 ounces (generous 5 T.) unsalted, sweet butter, at room temperature

1.3 ounces (scant 1/4 c.) granulated sugar

1 large egg

5.3 ounces (approximately 1-1/3 cups) all-purpose flour

In a food processor outfitted with the steel knife attachment, or in the bowl of an electric mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until light in color and free of lumps, scraping the bowl frequently during the mixing process. Add the sugar and mix to blend. Add the egg and mix until it is well incorporated. Add the flour and mix only until the flour disappears (if using the food processor, pulse it on and off while adding the flour). Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and flatten to a rough circle, about 3/4 inches thick. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour (or 30 minutes in the freezer). Remove from the refrigerator or freezer and roll the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/3 of an inch; carefully run a flat metal icing spatula under the dough to make sure that it is not sticking to your work surface.) When rolled evenly to the proper thickness, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and then drape it over the tart pan. Press the dough firmly into the pan, removing any overhanging dough. (Chill the reserved dough and roll it out and cut into cookies in any shape you wish. Sprinkle some granulated sugar over the cookies and bake.) Refrigerate the dough-filled tart pan until ready to bake.

Now prepare the fruit and the pound cake filling for the tart. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and position the baking rack in the oven halfway up from the bottom of the oven.

For the fruit:

6 apricots (approximately 1 lb.), halved, pits removed

6 apriums (approximately 1 lb.), halved, pits removed

Slice the fruit into 1/3 inch wedges and set aside.

For the pound cake filling:

2 ounces (scant 1/2 c.) all-purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

2 ounces (4 T.) sweet, unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 ounces (generous 1/4 c.) granulated sugar

1 large egg (approximately 2 ounces)

1 t. vanilla extract

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, use the steel knife attachment and mix the butter until completely smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times during the mixing process. Now add the sugar and egg and mix to incorporate. Add the flour and pulse to mix it in. Scrape the mixture out of the bowl, and using a small offset spatula, spread it in an even layer over the tart dough. Arrange the fruit, overlapping the slices as you wish, alternating between the apricots and the apriums, or making concentric circles of each.

Bake on a sheet pan for approximately 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the pound cake filling is lightly browned and firm to the touch. Remove to a cooling rack and store at cool room temperature until ready to serve. Glaze with heated apricot jam, brushing the fruit with a thin and even layer. If you wish to hold the tart for more than one day, refrigerate it and then bring to room temperature before serving.

For the optional ricotta garnish:

1 c. store-bought whole milk ricotta, scooped or spooned into rounds or oval shaped servings

If you wish to make homemade ricotta, here is what you will need:

1 quart whole milk

2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar

In a tall heavy saucepan, heat the milk to 195 degrees F. Stir in the lemon juice and mix until combined. Continue heating just until curds begin to form. Remove from the heat and ladle the liquid into a fine meshed sieve lined with three layers of dampened and squeezed-out cheesecloth set over a bowl. The curds will remain in the sieve and the whey will flow into the bowl. Allow to drain for a few minutes (the longer you allow the mixture to drain, the drier and firmer the ricotta will be). For a moist and creamy ricotta, use the cheese now. Or, if you wish to have a drier end result, place the bowl with its cheesecloth-lined sieve in the refrigerator for a few hours or if longer, cover it well and then remove it from the refrigerator, scraping the cheese curds gently from the cheesecloth. Transfer the cheese to a covered container and store for up to three days.

Serving the tart:

Slice into 6 equal portions and garnish each, if desired, with a scoop or oval shaped portion of ricotta on top of, or to the side of, the tart.

One Response to “Apricot and Aprium Tart”

  1. Faye Levy says:

    Was glad to find this recipe after listening to you on Jamie Gwen, and even the bonus of homemade ricotta – yum!

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