Apricots are little fruit jewels of the home orchard. They only last a day or two once picked, which is why you rarely see either apricots (or figs) fresh in the store. Their sweet, delicate flavor earned them a spot in our garden in the hopes that we could enjoy these treasures at their height of ripeness.
Unfortunately, in the Pacific NW it is really hard to grow apricots and peaches without running into blight issues. Starting late spring, the leaves on our apricot tree were looking pock-marked and the fruit developed scab. The tree has been bouncing back with new growth and the fruit all ripened. So what to do with a juicy harvest of scabbed fruit?
After searching and searching for information online, I couldn’t find anything that said you should not eat scabbed fruit. I decided to cook the tender apricots into a fruit tart – something simple that could show off the flavor of the apricots. Cooking them also made me feel like that would make eating blight-effected fruit a little safer.
The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters, has a lovely section of making tarts (and is one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever owned). She walks you carefully through the process of making dough where I learned the following tips:
- cold butter should be used to prevent the dough from becoming oily
- chunks of butter in the dough will steam when baked, creating a flakey dough
- overworking the dough will develop more gluten, making the dough tougher
Here is the basic process for making Alice Waters’ tart dough:
- Mix 2 cups of all purpose flour with 1/2 tsp. of salt
- Add 12 T. cold, unsalted butter (cut into 1/4″ cubes)
- Use a pastry knife or fingertips to gently combine. This takes 1-2 minutes and the dough should form into large peas.
- Sprinkle in up to 1/2 cup of ice-cold water, adding just a little at a time and fluffing the dough with a fork to gently combine.
- Divide the dough into two, flat disks. Wrap with plastic and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
To make this delicious apricot tart, here is the basic process based on the guidance of Alice Waters:
- Roll the chilled dough to about 1/8″ thickness and arrange on your baking dish (we used a pizza pan). Cover with plastic and place back in the fridge to chill
- Meanwhile, peel the apricots gently and slice into 1/4″ wedges
- Remove the dough from the fridge and sprinkle on 1-2 T. flour, leaving a 1 1/2″ border
- Arrange the fruit onto the dough, then fold up the border over the edges. Sprinkle with 2-3 T. sugar
- Bake for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. When the crust is lightly browned, you should be done.
The finished tart was an amazing way to show off the simple flavor of these fabulous apricots. You can use this basic recipe for any kind of fruit tart – just vary the baking time off the doneness of the fruit. You can also sprinkle on some berries on the tart after has already baked for 30 minutes.
How are you enjoying the fruits of summer? Any tips and tricks to share? Or how about sharing your favorite fruit combinations?