Possibly Sophie Hansen’s favourite thing to make and share, a good frangipane tart is a thing of beauty and deliciousness. The frangipane refers to a mix of ground almonds, butter, sugar, and egg, which is spread on the base of a shortcrust pastry shell, topped with fruit and baked. It looks pretty, tastes beautiful and is all done and dusted (with icing sugar, if you like) well in advance.
A note on the frangipane mixture: it does make a difference to the end result if you toast and grind the almonds fresh, but if you don’t have time, almond meal will work. Sophie also highly recommends doubling the frangipane mixture and freezing half—it’s such a handy thing to have stashed away ready to dollop on some frozen puff pastry and top with a bit of fruit for a quick dessert or afternoon tea.
Prep time 35 mins, plus 1 hour chilling
Cook time 45 mins
WHAT YOU NEED
3 poached quinces (see below), cut into 1cm thick slices
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
200g plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
40g icing (confectioners’) sugar
A pinch of salt
150g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
60ml iced water
For the frangipane filling
80g butter, softened
110g caster (superfine) sugar
120g almonds, lightly toasted and ground
1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
WHAT TO DO
To make the pastry
Combine the flour, icing sugar, and salt on a work surface. Bring into a mound and make a well in the centre. Fill the well with the cubed butter and a splash of the iced water. Use the heels of your hands to bring the mixture together, working the butter into the flour and adding more water as needed. Keep going until you have a rough dough. Shape into a disc, cut off a quarter of the pastry, and shape it into a smaller disc, then wrap both and place in the fridge to rest for 30 mins.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour, then roll out the larger disc of pastry into a round about 3mm thick. Gently drape the pastry over your rolling pin and ease it into a loose-based fluted tart tin, 23cm in diameter and 3cm deep. Press the pastry down into the crease where the base meets the side. Cut away the excess pastry to create a nice neat edge. Pop it into the fridge for another 30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Prick the base of the pastry a few times with a fork. Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, uncooked rice, or dried beans. Blind bake for 10 mins, then remove the weights and baking paper and bake for another 10 mins or until the pastry looks pale and dry.
To make the frangipane
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, flour, cornflour, egg, and vanilla and mix until soft and smooth.
Assembly and baking
Spoon the frangipane into the tart shell and smooth it out to cover the base. Arrange the poached quince slices on top.
Roll out the remaining pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Cut it into ten or so long strips. Place five of the strips across the top of the tart and then weave the remaining strips through them to create a lattice pattern.
Pop the tart into the oven for 25 mins or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature with thick (double) cream or ice cream.
This recipe can be adapted to suit any time of year. Try swapping the quinces with dollops of marmalade or jam. Poached pears are also beautiful, as are fresh raspberries or apricots.
Combine 220g sugar, 750ml water and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste in a large saucepan. Cook over high heat, whisking every now and then until the sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, peel and core four quinces, then cut into wedges and add to the sugar syrup. Cut a circle of baking paper to fit just inside the pan and press it down on the surface of the syrup. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 3 hrs or until the quinces are ruby red and soft.
Makes four (which is a little more than the tart recipe requires).