A beautiful thing

My frangipane tart is a beautiful thing. This is not in an aesthetic sense, as my not so great photo demonstrates, but in an eating sense. It is the sort of tart I feel compelled to devote my full attention to eating, so much so that if you were to try and talk to me whilst in the process of consuming my frangipane tart, you would be unlikely to receive a decent response. Crumbly pastry with a moist frangipane sponge, almondy and just sweet enough, cut through with some tangy, juicy greengages. It is a food substance of perfection. It reminded me of a tart I bought from a bakery in France this summer. A pear and frangipane tart, a wedge so large I required assistance in finishing it all, something my boyfriend was more than willing to oblige in. In fact, I think he was probably more fanatical about this tart than I was. His sweet tooth is considerably more pronounced than mine, and where I found that a few mouthfuls left me satisfied on the sugar front, the sweetness of the tart was, for him, its best feature, followed closely in second place by the value for money serving size.  It was the quality and texture of the frangipane filling that did it for me, so moist it was almost creamy textured (not dense and dried out as I have disappointingly experienced far too often) and flecked with the skins of the ground almonds, giving it a more robust, nutty flavour.

And so how does my frangipane tart match up? I’ll get the most painful part out of the way first, my pastry was not my best. It had a slightly chewy texture, which other tasters claimed not to notice, but which irked my inner pastry critic. Looking past the pastry, however, and I was in full adoration of the frangipane. Soft and moist with a just right sweetness, one that kept me wanting more and more without causing me to feel as if I was verging dangerously close on sugar overload. Tart little greengages, soft and juicy, brought a refreshing note which worked well against the frangipane. But even before the tart was no more, I found myself growing excited at the thought of making it again with other fruit,  perhaps nectarines, or berries.  But until then, the recipe.

Greengage Frangipane Tart (adapted from Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking)

Pastry:

  • 110g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk

Frangipane:

  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 110g ground almonds
  • 25g flour
  • 2 tbsp plum or apricot jam
  • 600g greengages, halved and stoned
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease the base and sides of a 23cm tart tin.
  2. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingertips working quickly to avoid the butter melting.
  3. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of cold water. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mix until you have added just enough liquid to be able to bring everything together in a ball. Flatten the ball of dough slightly and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30mins.
  4. Once chilled, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until large enough to line the base and sides of the tin. Drape the rolled out pastry over the tart tin, pressing it snugly into the corners of the tin and against the sides. Using your thumb, cut the pastry against the lip of the tart tin to give a neat edge. Prick the pastry base several times with a fork. Place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to cool the dough and firm it up again.
  5. The pastry now needs blind baking. Scrunch a piece of baking paper large enough to cover the base and sides of the pastry. Open it out again and use to line the pastry case, taking care to cover the sides of the pastry case and to press the paper right into the corners. Weigh the baking paper down with baking beans or dried pulses. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry just starts to feel dry to the touch. Remove the baking paper and weights and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Set aside the baked pastry case, still in the tin.
  6. To make the frangipane, cream the butter until soft, then add the sugar and cream together until a pale and fluffy.
  7. Combine the egg and egg yolk together in a cup, then add to the butter and sugar gradually, beating continuously.
  8. Add the flour and ground almonds and stir well until everything is combined.
  9. Spoon the frangipane into the pastry case. Arrange the greengage halves cut side down onto the frangipane, nestling them in slightly.
  10. Bake the tart in the oven for about 40 minutes until the frangipane is golden and feels set in the centre. Keep an eye on it and cover loosely with a sheet of foil or baking paper if the frangipane looks as if it is colouring too quickly.
  11. Just before the tart is ready, gently warm the jam in a small saucepan with 2 tsp of water until loosened and runny. Pass the jam through a sieve into a small bowl to make it smooth. Brush the jam over the tart as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  12. Leave the tart to cool slightly and eat warm or at room temperature.
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