Here today, gone tomorrow. Tis the season but it's already gone. Blenheim apricots, like butter and sugar sweet corn, king salmon and dry farm early girl tomatoes, I wait all year long for those things I love. When I saw Blenheims at the farmer's market on Saturday, I grabbed some and saved them to make a tart today with my students.
Today was the second day of my Provencal week of classes. Didn't even have to leave my house. (And after traveling so much in June, what a relief.) I taught my course right here in San Francisco. Bought some lavender, lots of herbs and plenty of Bandol rosé for a week full of the flavors from the south of France.
Today we took the Blenheims and made a luscious apricot tart with this very cool pastry. It's kind of a puff pastry without the hours of waiting and work. I call it a "rough, rough, rough puff."
Here's the deal... You freeze the flour and butter. Then pulse the two together in the food processor until half is the size of peas and the other half like oatmeal. Make a well and add ice water until it all hold together. Now roll it out.
You know how with puff pastry you have to do roll it out, fold it and do the turns. And patience is most needed because you have to wait 45 minutes between each turn. With my version, you do all three of the turns at once and then let it rest 45 minutes in the fridg.
OK if rough, rough, rough puff makes you dizzy reading the directions, run to the store and buy a package of frozen DuFours puff pastry and throw my recipe out the window. And you might also have to forget the Blenheims and just use any variety of apricot you can find.
RUSTIC APRICOT TARTpastry: 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup ice water
topping: 16 to 20 large apricots, pitted and each cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup apricot jam, melted and strained
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour and salt and place in freezer one hour before using. Place the butter in a bowl and place in the freezer one hour before using also.
Place the flour in the bowl to the food processor fit. Add the butter and pulse several times until half of the butter is the size of peas and the remaining is smaller. Turn the contents onto a work surface, marble if necessary. Make a well in the center. Combine the lemon juice and ice water and add to the cold flour and butter. Gather as best you can to make a ball. Press the dough together as best you can to form a rough rectangle shape, 4" X 6". There will be large chunks of butter showing.
Roll out dough into a ½" thick rectangle, 5" X 7". Fold the narrow ends towards the center to meet in the center. Fold in half again so that there are four layers. This is your first turn. Turn the dough a quarter of a turn and roll again to form a rectangle ½" thick. Repeat the folding process. This is your second turn. Turn the dough a quarter of a turn and roll again to form a rectangle ½" thick. This time, fold into thirds as you would a business letter. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill 45 to 60 minutes.Preheat oven to 400oF. Combine the apricots and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Roll the pastry into a 12" circle and place on a baking sheet. Trim and crimp the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar onto the dough. Place the apricots in a concentric decorative pattern in a single layer on top of the pastry.. Brush with melted butter and bake in the middle of the oven. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 375oF and continue to bake for 25 to 35 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and brush with jam. Let cool 10 minutes.
To serve, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed. Sift the powdered sugar on top of the cream, add the vanilla and fold together. Serve with the tart.
Makes 1 tart, 10-inches diameter and serves 8