This is a really useful recipe to have up your sleeve. The basic almond filling is simple to make and all kinds of fruits combine well with it. Depending on the fruit you use you can play around with complementary flavours (orange zest would go well with figs, for example) and the alcoholic spirit – or omit that altogether. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Cuisine Bon Marché is my starting point for the recipe below: in his version the fruit is arranged in the pre-baked pastry and the almond cream spread on top. An alternative, more eye-catching method is cream first, then fruit, as illustrated in the picture below.
Serves 8, using a 24cm tart tin
a pinch of salt
100g cool unsalted butter, diced
2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
2 egg yolks
scant tbsp cold water (if needed)
extra flour for dusting
170g unsalted butter, softened
85g caster sugar
3 large eggs
170g ground almonds
1 tbsp rum
30g flaked almonds (optional)
10-12 fresh apricots (pre-bake if not ripe), halved
6-8 fresh figs, halved or quartered
450g blueberries or cherries
5-6 peaches, quartered
5-6 pears (poach first if very hard)
5-6 plums, quartered
Sift the flour and salt together and rub in the butter, by hand or in a food processor. Stir in the sugar and then the egg yolks and a dash of water (if needed) until the pastry binds together. Form into a pat on a floured surface (try to avoid handling the pastry too much), cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour.
Grease the tart tin, then roll out the pastry on a floured surface and line the tin. (A tip: save your off-cuts for patching up any holes that emerge during blind baking.) Prick the pastry shell all over with a fork. Chill in the fridge again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170C (fan). Scrunch up some baking parchment, open it out, lay it over the pastry and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes, uncovered. (To ensure a crisp, sealed base, brush the pastry with egg white – saved from the egg yolks – before the second blind bake.) The tart shell can be filled when still warm, and re-baked straight away, or covered when cool and left for a few hours.
To make the filling, cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is pale and light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the ground almonds, and finally the rum. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled – it will right itself when baked.
Pour/spread the filling into the tart shell and press the fruit into it. If you like, you can sprinkle a few flaked almonds over the top.
Bake in a preheated moderate to hot oven (160 fan) for 35-40 minutes until golden-brown on top. Serve warm or at room temperature, but don’t chill it before serving. Cream or crème fraîche would be the perfect accompaniment.