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Apricot tart - it's the moment!

Beautiful fruit in the markets and shops in Europe just now - time to make and share an apricot tart. Even if the fruit seems a little hard that won't matter for this recipe.

If, like me, you love dessert wine, it's perfect for this. Or, another thing that is unbelievably delicious, is the Liqueur d'Abricot from Jean-Marc Roulot, my favourite Meursault grower, who has a licence to distill, as his father did. This is is truly the nectar of the gods! A small glass would go nicely with this tart.............


FOR THE SWEET SHORTCRUST PASTRY (to fill a 25 cm (10 in) tart tin): 200g (7 oz) plain flour 1 small pinch of salt about 15 g (1 oz) caster sugar 100 g (31⁄2 oz) butter at room temperature 1 egg a little water FOR THE FILLING: 750 g - 1 kg (11⁄2 - 2 lb) ripe apricots

1 tablespoon sugar, optional 2 - 3 tablespoons Muscat Beaumes de Venise, (keep the rest of the bottle to drink with the tart) 1 egg yolk, optional

Get started in good time by preparing the shortcrust. It may seem a bit of a faff resting, chilling etc, but it is worth it!

Sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt and sugar. Roughly cut up the butter, then with the tips of your fingers, speedily rub it into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Lightly beat the egg with about a teaspoon of cold water. Make a dip in the middle of the heap of flour, pour in the egg and mix until it is a supple and moist paste. Form this into a ball, cover and leave to rest for an hour.

Butter a 25 cm (10 in) removable-base, fluted tart tin. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and line the tart tin with it. Chill for one hour.

Preheat oven, gas mark 6, 400 F, 200 C, with a heavy baking sheet on the middle shelf.

Cover the pastry with a piece of buttered baking parchment, weighted with dried beans. Put into preheated oven on the baking sheet for about 8 minutes. Remove the paper and beans. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and return to the oven for about 3 minutes more. It should be just starting to come away from the sides of the tin; do not let it get too brown.

Reduce the oven heat to gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C.

Preparing the fruit:Stone the fruit and slice thinly. If they are under-ripe, it might be worth poaching the slices for a few minutes in a little water and sugar but you must drain them carefully. Arrange them in concentric circles in the pastry shell. In order to prevent the pastry becoming soggy, many people like to brush the base with egg yolk before doing this. Sprinkle the fruit with the tablespoon of sugar if using.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. This tart is nice served warm, but whether eaten warm or cold, sprinkle the fruit with the Muscat Beaumes de Venise* just before serving. It should make a sensational finish to the meal.

*of course you can substitute with another dessert wine. This recipe was given to me by a grower in the Rhone valley but you could use a sweet wine from the Loire, or whatever is your choice.


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