Baking: Apricot Lavender Frangipane Tart

Apricot Lavender Frangipane Tart

Synonym with early summer, apricots and lavender are meant for each other. The seasons know best, they say; they make sure certain things come to their peak together so that they can be enjoyed together. Well. This is very much the case. This tart brings forth the aromatic tang of not-yet-overly-ripe apricots with the vague floral scent of lavender, which, as it infuses the sugar that’s used for both the crust and the cream, is detectable in the most pleasant way. The recipe itself reminds me of Provence, with its blue-purple fields of lavender stretching til eye can see, the scent of lavender wafting in the warm air, a kitchen with the French doors wide open, and a buttery tart baking in the quietness of a summer afternoon.

For the lavender sugar:
250g caster sugar
10g dry lavender buds

For the crust:
250g plain flour, sifted
125g cold butter, cubed
60g lavender sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the frangipane cream:
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g lavender sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

8 apricots, halved and pitted
Lavender sugar, for sprinkling

Make the lavender sugar by placing both sugar and lavender in a food processor or spice grinder and grinding until very fine and almost powder-like. Sift the sugar to hold back any bigger pieces of lavender. Save the lavender sugar and use it in the recipe as listed in the ingredients.

To make the pastry, rub the cubed butter and flour until you have a mix that resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the lavender sugar and the eggs and work it all together into smooth ball of pastry. Wrap it in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour – it should be firm and cold.

Meanwhile, make the frangipane cream by beating the butter and lavender sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, incorporating them into the cream after every addition. Finally, stir in the ground almonds and almond extract. Wrap the bowl in clingfilm and chill for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Dust a work surface with a sprinkle of flour. Roll the cold pastry out to a disc that's about 2 to 3mm thick and wide enough to line your tart tin. Press the pastry lightly onto the bottom and edges of the tin and trim away any excess pastry falling off the edges. Pierce the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork. Spoon the chilled frangipane cream on top and spread it evenly. Arrange the apricot halves on top, cut side up, and press them lightly to make them sink into the cream. Sprinkle with lavender sugar.

Set the tart on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top looks airy and light brown and the cream is cooked through. Transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature before slicing and serving (it's good slightly chilled, too). Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.