I ‘m a fan of frangipane. And never would have been drawn to it when I was younger. But for me it’s almost a perfect combination of spongelike texture with a pastry base. A match made in heaven once there isn’t an over-powering taste of almond essence. Ugh. Double ugh in fact.
The earliest mention is in a French Cookbook in 1674! Some believe that the name bears homage to St. Francis of Assisi. That a noblewoman named Jacopa da Settesoli brought some to him on his death bed in 1226.
I like to make this tart a little hap hazard, no need for perfect pastry crust or to get the ruler out to measure the distance between the apricots. So I suppose it’s a pie really. The basil gives a lovely perfume to the apricot filing. And somehow makes it a little less sweet, which, unlikely as it seems, is a good thing!
Apricot and Basil Frangipane Tart
200g plain flour
100g butter (from the fridge)
50g caster sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
For the frangipane
100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
140g ground almonds
75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
About 5 basil leaves
8-10 apricots, stoned and quartered
Icing sugar, softly whipped cream and vanilla bean paste
To make the pastry, mix the flour, butter and a pinch of salt into your food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and pulse again. Add the vanilla, egg and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water, and pulse until the dough just comes together. Tip out and shape into a disc. Chill for 30 minutes, then roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper, as this pastry is very crumbly. Line a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry, pressing it into the sides. Chill for at least 30 mins.
Meanwhile, prepare the frangipane. Using electric beaters if you have them, beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, then stir in the almonds, flour, and the torn basil leaves.
Heat oven to 160oC fan 4 and put in a baking tray to heat. Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth. Poke the apricots into the frangipane. Bear in mind it’s a very rustic tart.
Transfer to the baking tray, in the oven, and bake for 40-50 mins (cover with foil after 30 mins if the tart is getting too dark) until the fruit is tender and a skewer poked in the frangipane comes out clean.
Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar, with a dollop of softly whipped cream mixed with a little vanilla bean paste, if you like.