I don’t know how it came up. I think I asked my friend Gail Norton for a new recipe for a summer dessert. I was bored with my usual repertoire.
Apricots, she said.
Make a Tatin. I’ll send you a recipe.
She did and that’s where this story starts.
Gail’s one of the best cooks I know. I trust her (City) palate. I’ll admit I’ve never done a lot with fresh apricots.
Apricot jam – yes.
Apricot nectar – yum.
Dried apricots dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in pistachios – they were the only good thing that came out of that whole South Beach diet craze.
I looked Gail’s recipe over. I printed it. I meditated on it. She was coming to visit me in Penticton where I spend a week or two each summer. We’d be cooking together. I’d be on the hunt for apricots.
When I arrived in the Okanagan Valley a few days ahead of my friend I went out cycling and found that it was a bumper year for the cheery little orange orbs. The arching branches of the trees I spotted in orchards and dotting backyards around town were like tight bows under the weight of their fruit. I went to the all organic Penticton Farmers’ Market and stocked up.
Cooking together is a great way to relax and unwind with Gail. She’s worked with the best chefs in the world at her Cookbook Co. Cooks cooking school and has such mastery by now that everything is easy for her. I turn sponge when I cook with her and absorb what I can; inserting a few questions and clandestinely jotting a few notes.
I set her up with a pan full of sugar, butter and fruit and left her to monitor the content’s progress to syrupy caramelized juices. She deftly flipped the apricots over in the pan and dropped the pastry I’d made on it. We stuck it in the oven and after cooking and cooling a bit, flipped the whole lovely thing onto a plate and served it up with some creme fraiche and fresh slices of the same early July fruit.
I can’t even tell you what else I made that night. It’s as though a big orange Apricot Tatin moon eclipsed the rest of the meal.
I’ll be forever grateful to Gail for sharing the recipe. It was my apricot awakening.
Of course, she really didn’t make it according to the recipe she sent me and then I didn’t like the original crust so I changed that and so I feel pretty confident that the recipe below has morphed enough to say it is something new.
Fall will come and all my Tatin’s will be made from crisp firm apples but for this summer – Apricots delivered me from my summer dessert rut and inspired me anew. That’s always the sign of a great ingredient. That’s joy and that’s a great way to savour it all.
Enjoy the pictures. The recipe follows.
Apricot Awakening Tatin
Step 1 – make the pastry
My friend Rosemary Harbrecht (another great cook I know) taught me to make this pastry recipe. I love it because it makes enough for two crusts. You can keep the second in the fridge and whip it out to make a lovely tart again in a few days or you can freeze it for a month or more. Bless you Rosemary for sharing this with me.
¼ c sugar
1 ½ c flour
⅛ tsp. salt
½ c. butter
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsps whipping cream
Place the flour, sugar and salt into hate food processor and blend.
Add the cold butter and blend until the mixture is crumbly.
Add the egg yolk and cream slowly and pulse the food processor till the dough starts to come together.
Take it out of the processor and form it into two balls.
Wrap them in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the dough to rest.
Use your fingers to pile the dough into a circle the size of your Tatin pan.
Use a rolling pin to smooth the surface and to pick it up and transfer it to the Tatin.
Step 2 – make the filling
16 apricots, halved and pitted
¾ c. organic cane sugar
¼ c. butter
Place the butter and sugar in a ovenproof skillet and cook on low heat, stirring until the butter melts and the mixture starts to bubble.
Place the apricots in the pan cut-side down in tight concentric circles until pan is full.
Cook until the juices are thick and caramelized and the bubbling has all but stopped.
Step 3 – Tarting up your Tatin
Place the pastry on top and tuck in the edges.
Place the pan in a 375F oven for 25 minutes.
Remove and let rest for 15 minutes.
Place a large serving plate on the pan and then flip the pan and plate.
Tap the pan and wait to hear a sucking sound as the tart releases.
Replace any apricots that stuck to the pan.
Serve with ice cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream and a sprig of mint.
Forget la vie en rose. For me, after my Apricot Awakening, the whole world took on an apricot glow. One last picture to show you what I mean…