Season's eatings - Apricot and Thyme Tart

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July is the month the French celebrate the storming of the Bastille, chopping people’s heads off and disposing of royalty – not something this country, with our recent royal overload is likely to give un petit soupcon about; however it is also the month that sweet, fragrant apricots make their way in the supermarkets and stores.

To celebrate the short lived season for this brilliant little fruit; try out this easy, French inspired tart (minus revolution and bloody rebellion). We might not get the weather over here - but close your eyes, take a bite and you’ll be outside a châteaux with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face!

The best types of wines for this pudding are ones that can stand up to the intense sweetness of the caramel, so a Sauternes is brilliant – try the 2003 Chateau de Rayne-Vigneau; its herb-tinged honeyed layers can take on and really compliment this flavourful fruit. The big weight in the mouth of this dessert wine isn’t overtaken by the sweetness of the pudding – there’s just the hint of acidy to stop it all becoming overly sickly.

Another good match is the Mu: Vin Doux Natural Muscat de Rivesaltes. This 50/50 mix of Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains and Muscat Alexandria creates a deliciously sweet wine with hints of citrus to cut through the sweetness of the pudding. There are distinct floral, tropical notes of peach to compliment the flowery apricots, which also brings a nice lightness to the pairing.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas 6.
  2. Add the sugar to a small, heavy based frying pan (about 20cm wide) that can go in the oven (ie not plastic handles!) and place over a medium heat. Cook the sugar until it melts and caramelises – swirl the pan every now and then to stop the sugar catching, but don’t stir or the sugar will crystallise (and don’t touch it, it’s very hot!).
  3. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter and salt. Stir until it becomes a smooth toffee and there is no oil floating on top.
  4. Stir in your thyme, keeping about a tsp back. Put your apricots face down in the sugar and make sure there are as pushed together as they can be. Set aside.
  5. Take your pastry out of the fridge and roll out into a circle on a lightly floured surface. You want to pastry to be about 2cm bigger than your pan.
  6. Place the pastry over the apricots and tuck round the apricots INSIDE the pan (be careful of your fingers). Put the pan in the oven and bake for 25 mins or until the pasty is puffy and golden brown.
  7. Take the pan out (use a tea towel as the handle will be HOT). Let the tart cool for 5 mins and then (still using the tea towel), place your serving plate over the top of the pan and flip over so the tart ends on the plate with the apricots facing up (you may need to loosen the sides of the tart before hand).
  8. Sprinkle with the reserved thyme and serve with cream or ice cream.
Ingredients: 
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 40g unsalted butter, cubed
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped finely
  • 300g fresh apricots, cut in half, stoned (about 8-9)
  • 1 pack (375g) ready rolled all butter puff pastry