This is the ultimate taste of summer for me, because it involves my ultimate summer fruit: the apricot. Between about June and October, it would be a very rare thing to open my fridge and not spy a brown paper bag full of these golden, silky, fragrant orbs. I buy them in bulk every time I visit a market or a supermarket, spending a few moments picking out the best: those that feel heaviest in the hand, those that are warm and soft as a baby’s cheek rather than hard and cold, those that sport a mottled, sienna-coloured blush on one side.
Apricots meet one of two ends in my kitchen: that of being baked slowly with honey, orange blossom water and cinnamon in the oven, or poached in a pan with orange juice, vanilla and star anise. Oh, and sometimes I make jam, throwing in cardamom seeds and a vanilla pod. It’s divine.
I like this tart because it’s a dessert in itself – you don’t really need ice cream, cream or crème fraiche to go alongside, because you have the lovely gooey custard filling. The biscuit base remains wonderfully crisp and crunchy thanks to a layer of ground almonds between it and the filling, and those apricots…so sweet, molten, tangy and delicious. Buttery, crispy pastry with a hint of marzipan, sweet honey-scented custard and ripe, juicy summer fruit. It’s easy to put together but, pulled from the oven and dusted with icing sugar, will look like something you could easily have spent £20 on from a fancy patisserie in London or Paris. Revel in the compliments and appreciative murmurs as this is devoured.
Incidentally, this also works well with plums, and I imagine would be excellent with raspberries, blueberries or figs.