Friday, July 9, 2010

Apricot Cornmeal Crumb Tart

There is a sweet and natural affinity between the soft sunset blush of early summer apricots and the homespun State-Fair-Blue-Ribbon pride of corn. Maybe it has something to do with long full days of bright sun, a labor-intensive harvest and our wholehearted ritual of indulging in the season’s bright splash of sumptuous colors and flavors.

Apricots are my ideal baking partner and this easy breezy tart really maximizes their lusciousness as they bask in the company of their adoring admirer, cornmeal. These two pair so harmoniously I can't help but conspire in their brief rendezvous every year.

These apricots are first bathed in a little sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to coax along some juices that bake into fruity puckers of bright acidity once they are ensconced in the tart. The little burst of cornmeal has just a slight crunch and all the rustic flavor but is not too dense or grainy. It almost begs for an embroidered tablecloth.

This time my immersion into the intersection of the cornfield and the apricot orchard has produced a beauty. I know I’ve waxed on and on about my love for apricots each and every season and I have to say, this is one of my favorite pastries to emerge from my studio. So now it’s your turn. Please, do tell: what are your favorite pastries that you seek out each year?

Bench notes:
- I used Quaker yellow cornmeal for this recipe, which is finely ground.
- The method for mixing this dough is the same as for the Apple Crumble Tart. You can see how crumbly the dough should look going into the pan.
- Be sure to place the tart on a baking pan lined with parchment to prevent any potential drips from burning on the bottom of the oven.
- Another favorite cornmeal and apricot recipe is Cornmeal Cake with Apricots.

Apricot Cornmeal Crumb Tart

8 fresh ripe apricots
1/4 C water
1/4 C + 2 T sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of cinnamon

2 C flour
1/4 C + 2 T fine cornmeal
3/4 C sugar
1/4 t + 1/8 t salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 egg yolks
1/4 C + 2 T sour cream

Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Combine the water and sugar together and bring to a simmer. Split and seed the vanilla bean and add to the syrup along with the apricots and the cinnamon. Lower the heat to a low simmer and cook the mixture until the apricots starts to slump and look jammy but still hold their shape. Take off the heat and pour into a strainer placed over a bowl to drain. Set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt and place in a food processor. Add the butter pieces and pulse just enough to begin to break the butter up into smallish pieces. Mix the yolks and sour cream together and add to the food processor. Pulse just a few times until the mixture looks like it’s coming together but is still rather crumbly. Do not overmix. Pour into a large bowl and toss gently with your hands.

Pour about 2/3 of the dough crumbles into a 9” tart pan with the bottom lined with parchment. Gently spread an even layer to the edges and press lightly without compressing it too much. Cover the bottom of the pan completely so there aren’t any holes. Layer the cooled apricots evenly on top, leaving about a little border around the edge. Sprinkle the remaining dough crumble over the top of the apricots. Be sure to spread some out to the edges of the tart pan to form a border.

Place the tart on a sheet pan lined with parchment and bake for about 35 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the tart pan to serve.


Mary said...

I really love apricots and your tart with its unusual crust and topping is really appealing to me. I am new to your blog and have spent time working my way through your earlier entries. I'm so glad I did. I really like your recipes and will be back often to see what you've been baking. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

vanillasugar said...

now this looks good. can i ask where you got the recipe from? or is it your own? i ask because i went to a summer fair and they had this fabulous apricot crumble cake with a hard-like crust. it was so good and filled with thick crumbs. i went back the next day to get more and inquire about a recipe but alas they were gone. so now that i can't find it i really want it. maybe i should play with your version and see what happens.

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much, Mary. I'm grateful for your support!

vanillasugar, I always credit other recipes that are not my own. This tart is something I created because I wanted to see if I could make a tart with apricots and cornmeal that was moist and chewy rather than dry and crisp. I'm really pleased with the results. Your cake sounds very interesting - I'm trying to imagine it. Since I love apricots so much, I'm sure it's delicious. Please let me know if you are successful with trying to recreate the recipe!

Barbara said...

The apricots in this dessert look sticky and tart. Exactly the way I like them! Wouldn't a slice of this be marvelous for tea? The color is divine and I share your love of apricots.

I remember taking my kids to the state fair every summer in Michigan. I wanted to spend my entire time in the food bored them so I had to use bribery of the worst kind. :)

(oops..forgot to tell you I linked to your blog again this week!)

Julie said...

This looks so beautiful and delicious! I've never made anything with apricots. I might give this one a try!!!

Michele Napoli said...

Your writing is beautiful, and your photographs are so inspiring that I just may have to make this tart very soon. Thanks!

Y said...

That looks like such a wonderful tart! I really want to try this. Maybe I could do it with rehydrated dried organic apricots instead, since we're in the middle of Winter at the moment.

Lemons and Lavender said...

I know I am supposed to leave a comment about my favorite fruit, but I cannot let this opportunity go by without complementing this post. Your posts are always delightful: beautifully photographed, well-written and with visually impressive yet approachable recipes. This one, however, was so well-executed with each sentence pulling you, quite willingly, onto the next. Superb!

Kathleen said...

Oh, this is so pretty and summery-looking and sounds luscious. I like the idea of the cornmeal crumbles.


Kevin said...

That looks good! I like the sound of the cornmeal crumb.

sherry said...

this is wonderful, I have always enjoyed apple crumble but i am now a fan of Apricot. thank you for sharing this lovely recipe

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much, everyone! I hope you get a chance to try this tart. I think it's really delicious.

Ben David said...

Are you using fine or coarse cornmeal?

Sometimes the coarse cornmeal leaves a gritty texture if it's not moistened during mixing/baking.

pastry studio said...

Ben David, I use fine yellow cornmeal. This time I happened to use Quaker brand.

anna said...

This looks so sunshiney and delicious, just the way an apricot dessert should look!

Aneta said...

Oh, dear pastry studio, how I've missed you. We went overseas for a wedding. And now we are back, and I see I've landed on the perfect post! I LOVE apricots, but all stone fruits in particular. (As a child living in Eastern Europe we had many stone fruits in our garden)
I'm the person who will always buy more apricots than sane, and then spend days contemplating how to best cook them. (usually though I just love eating them raw.) But give me anything with apricot and I'm a happy happy girl.
Thanks for sharing the recipe. Apricots are not yet in season here, but as soon as they are, and after I've eaten enough raw, I'll be sure to make this and let you know how it goes.
(Now, I just need to buy an embroidered tablecloth!)
Thanks you,

saturday mike said...

Made this yesterday and it was just great! I really love these kinds of tarts where the crust and topping are from the same dough. So easy to put together.
I got apricots at a farmer's market and they were quite small. I ended up using 17, rather than the 8 called for in the recipe. But the flavor was wonderful and the crumb topping really lovely - not too sweet!

pastry studio said...

So glad to hear you enjoyed this. It's definitely one of my favorite pastries EVAH!