I can't believe that my last post was April, apologies but life has been pretty hectic. As a garden designer spring and early summer are my busiest times of the year, 2017 has been particularly crazy as I now have to juggle my garden work with loads of baking related stuff. I have also recently done my very first pop up supper club in the picturesque market town of Faversham, Kent. A great evening but a steep learning curve. Maybe next time I will just do one dessert instead of three, what was I thinking?!
Food festival season is just starting for me and I have had invitations to lots of lovely places. The first one is at the beautiful Knebworth House. Many of us oldies know it as a rock concert venue and the temptation when I'm on stage will be to shout 'Hello Knebworth' but my kids say that really is not cool and who am I to argue?
This lovely apricot bakewell is the first recipe I will be demonstrating tomorrow. I wanted to ring the changes for this old classic and was tempted by all the lovely fruits in the shops at the moment.
I particularly like apricots there is just something very special about their tangy sweetness that tickles my taste buds. In mid-summer they are readily available in the supermarkets, delicious eaten straight from the fruit bowl but if you have some under ripe ones and don’t want to wait until they are ready then give this recipe a try. You can use tinned ones if fresh apricots are out of season with the bonus of not having to remove the skins and so a dessert to enjoy all year round. You can use any shortcrust pastry but this one is very well behaved, ie it doesn’t shrink much, it is difficult to roll out but you can patch it up in the tin and no one would ever know. I hope you will agree that the slightly tart apricots complement the sweet almond filling really well.
I hope you enjoy it.
Serves 8 – 10
Time approx. 2 hours plus cooling
Grease 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tin
Preheat oven to 180C (fan) 200C (conventional)
Make the pastry by beating together softened butter and the egg yolk until light and fluffy, beat in the icing sugar, fold in the plain flour until the mixture comes together then wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Now the messy job of taking the skin off the apricots. Place the fruit in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, this may take longer if the apricots are very under ripe. Remove fruit from the water and remove the skins, they should come off easily but if they are being stubborn pop them back in the water for another couple of minutes. Halve the fruit and remove the stones.
Set aside 7 apricot halves. Roughly chop the rest and place in a small saucepan with 60g of caster sugar. Gently bring to the boil and simmer until looking syrupy. Mash them up roughly with a fork and set aside. Note I prefer to use cooked apricots instead of jam as I find it a bit too sweet but if you can use a good apricot conserve.
Roll out the pastry and line the prepared tin. It is a difficult pastry to roll out as it is inclined to crack. Don’t worry get as much in the tin as you can and patch the holes with spare pieces. No need to use water it sticks together very well. Ensure you have an even layer, prick the bottom with a fork and trim edges. Put it back into the fridge for 15 minutes. Now line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans, cook for 15 minutes, remove the parchment and the beans and pop back in the oven for a further 5 minutes until dry and lightly coloured. Set aside while you make the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature down to 130C (fan) 150C (conventional)
Place the softened butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, flour and almond extract in a bowl and beat until combined.
Spread the cooked apricots over the bottom of the cooked pastry case. Crumble in the crunchy amaretti biscuits and top with the almond mixture ensuring that the apricot mix is covered. Placed the reserved apricot halves on the top and sprinkle on the flaked almonds, avoiding the apricots.
Wrap some foil around the tin to prevent the pastry from overbrowning.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for approx. 1 hour or until the filling has set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of apricot jam with 2 tablespoons of water and brush the top of the apricots with the mixture, you can brush the whole of the top if you fancy but I like the apricots shining out.
Leave to cool before removing from the tin.