A rich, eggy, forgiving pastry dough and a mixture of ripe apricots -- fresh and cooked -- combine to make this spectacular-looking tart.
Don't worry about creating perfect latticework for the top: See the accompanying how-to graphic for 2 ways to achieve success. Use unbleached flour. You'll need a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
Servings: 8 - 1 0
- For the crust
- 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- For the filling
- 10 apricots
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
For the crust: Place the flour, confectioners' sugar, salt and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into one solid piece, kneading it very briefly to bring it together. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut the disk into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Rewrap the smaller portion and return it to the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion into a 12-inch round that is 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker. Carefully drape the dough over a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The dough is very tender and might tear, but it can be pressed back together easily. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch and gently fold the overhang inward over the inside edge of the pan, pressing it into the sides, to reinforce the crust. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For the filling: Cut the apricots in half; remove and discard the pits. Set aside 4 halves and coarsely chop the remaining halves. Combine the chopped apricots in a medium saucepan with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the apricots have softened to a chunky, jamlike puree. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the tart shell and the remaining piece of dough from the refrigerator. Spoon the cooled apricot mixture into the shell and smooth it with a rubber spatula. Cut the remaining 4 apricot halves into 1/2-inch pieces and scatter them over the filling. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the apricots. Roll out the remaining dough portion into a 10-inch round about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker, and use a fluted pastry wheel or sharp paring knife to cut it into 3/4-inch-wide strips. Carefully place the strips over the filled tart in a lattice pattern. Gently press the ends of the strips into the rim of the tart shell to cut off excess dough. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top crust is golden. Turn off the oven and leave the crostata inside for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Remove the rim of the tart pan and let the crostata cool completely on the rack before transferring it to a decorative serving platter.
Just before serving, dust the top of the crostata liberally with confectioners' sugar.
About the dough: The dough used to make the crust for this tart is known in Italian as pasta frolla. It is rich and buttery and, once baked, does not get soggy. Because it is so buttery, it tends to tear easily, but it is also very pliable and is easily patched back together. Be sure to chill the dough thoroughly -- for at least one hour and up to overnight -- before rolling it out. If you chill it overnight, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before rolling it out.
Adapted from Domenica Marchetti's "The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy" (Chronicle Books, 2006).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.