Almond tart with apricot jam

Makes 8-10 slices
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Indy Lifestyle Online

An almond tart is a lovely end to any meal; it goes with almost any spring or summer fruit. The quantity of pastry makes more than you need for a 10-inch tart shell, as does the filling, but pastry freezes well and it's always good to have some to hand.

For the apricot jam

1kg/2lb apricot, washed
The juice of two oranges
500g/1lb caster sugar
The peel of one lemon
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise

For the pastry

500g/1lb plain flour
40g/2oz caster sugar
1tsp pure vanilla extract
1 whole organic free-range egg
1 organic free-range egg yolk
250g/8oz unsalted butter
A little cold water

For the almond filling

300g/10oz whole blanched almonds
300g/10oz unsalted butter
300g/10oz caster sugar
6 whole eggs
The zest of 2 lemons

First make the jam. Slice the apricots in half and remove the stones and hard surrounding core. Lay cut-side up on a tray and squeeze over the orange juice and sprinkle over the sugar. Leave for 30 minutes to allow the sugar and juice to soak into the fruit. Now place into a heavy-based saucepan. Add the lemon peel and vanilla pod and bring to a vigorous boil over a high heat. Turn down slightly and cook for 30 minutes or until slightly broken down and sticky. Remove from the stove and, while warm, spoon into sterilised jars. This will keep well in the fridge or a cool dark place for a month.

Now start on the pastry: place the flour in a food processor along with the sugar, vanilla extract, whole egg and yolk. Dice the butter into small cubes and add to the bowl. Turn the machine on and blitz until you have the consistency of wet sand. Add a tablespoon of cold water and continue to process; the dough will begin to come together into a smooth ball. At this point remove from the machine and wrap in greaseproof paper. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Lay the almonds on a tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Cook for 3-4 minutes to warm them and tickle out their natural flavour. Remove and allow to cool, then grind them in the food processor until still quite coarse. Chop the butter into cubes and add along with the sugar. Turn the machine on and add the eggs one at a time through the funnel in the top. When finished you should have a soft paste that quite easily drops from a spoon. Remove from the bowl and stir in the lemon zest. If using almost straight away, leave out at room temperature. Otherwise place in the fridge.

When ready to use, slice the pastry ball in half. Wrap and return one half to the fridge or freezer. Generously flour your work surface. With your rolling pin, roll out the pastry to an eighth of an inch thickness and line your tart case with it, pressing firmly into the sides with your thumb. Prick the base well all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5. Remove the tart case from the fridge and line with parchment paper and pastry beans (uncooked rice will do) and blind-bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then take out and remove the beans and parchment paper. Pour in the almond filling – you will have plenty left over – and return to the middle shelf of the oven. Cook for 35-40 minutes more or until the surface is golden-brown and the top is firm to the touch.

Cool on a rack and serve in slices with a spoonful of the jam, and finish with a good dollop of cream or crème fraîche.

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