It celebrates what we eat and how we eat it. It highlights what's here naturally, from fish and shellfish, to beasts and birds to crops and wild fruits and veggies. It recognises each crop and herd brought by waves of immigrants from cows and pigs to wheat and from indigenous foods to crops and herds brought over with each successive immigration wave.
Mmm...Canada. We are a nation of lucky eaters.
Admittedly, the vast majority of my foodbuying happens in megamarts of varying sizes. When I can, from spring until autumn I travel out past the roundabout to Herrle's in St. Agatha. They're a local treasure, known for having the best produce grown either by the Herrle family or by other local or close-to-local growers.
The market itself evolves as the seasons do. You won't find corn in April and it's highly unlikely saskatoon berries will offered in August. Here even the most removed from food cycles are aware of the specialness of the produce: deep red tomatoes heavy from their juices, signs leading shoppers to the freshest-picked beans at the back of the store, gaggles of shoppers at bins of their famous corn, their arms filled with ears destined for a pot of water or for the barbecue. It's not like my usual megamart.
Yesterday I made a point of heading out to St. Agatha. I returned with a bagful of goodies: yellow and green courgettes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, apricots and wild blueberries. I'll probably beg My Dear Little Cardamummy for guidance in replicating her courgette and tomato curry and the sweet potatoes will be roasted. But the fruit?
The weather has cooled off a tad and this Jasmine no longer wilts in the heat and humidity. As a result turning on the oven isn't arduous, but a pleasure. Especially when a tart is to be had.
This tart is a variant of the Bakewell Tart Daring Baker's challenge I hosted last year, ably assisted by my dear Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar: but this time the frangipane is sandwiched between fruit layers atop a sweet shortcrust.The resulting rich, sweet nuttiness is perfect for sharing on a day that celebrates food.
Blueberry-Apricot Frangipane Tart
Makes one 23cm (9") tart
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
2Tbsp apricot or blueberry jam, warmed
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
200g (1c) (wild) blueberries, rinsed and picked through
5-10 apricots, sliced into eight wedges each.
225g (0.75c+ 3Tbsp) ap flour
110g (0.5c) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 egg yolks
1-2 Tbsp cold cream
100g (7Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
100g (0.5c) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
100g (1 scant cup) ground almonds
3Tbsp all purpose flour
For the crust:
Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the cream, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Dock the crust with a fork and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line the tart tin with foil and pour on the baker's beans. Bake for about 10 minutes.
For the frangipane:
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. Pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour. Set Aside
Assembling the tart:
Spread as even a layer jam onto the pastry base. Tumble the blueberries on top. Slather on the frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. layer the top with as many of the apricot wedges as possible (depending upon the size of your slices, you'll probably have leftovers. Just eat them).
Pop into the oven for 30-40 minutes. The frangipne will poof from between the fruit slices, brown and set.
Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.
I'm a quill for hire!
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