Last week at the farmers market, when I spied baskets of ripe apricots with the intense orange-red glow of a tropical sunset, I couldn’t contain myself.
Then, I just had to bake.
These beauties were destined for “Crostata Di Marmalata,” an easy apricot jam-filled tart that I took the liberties of blinging out by decorating it with halves of these early stone fruit.
You probably know Lahey for the phenomenon he created with his revolutionary no-knead bread recipe a decade ago. Lahey, who opened his Sullivan Street Bakery in New York in 1994, is known far and wide for his way with bread, made with wild yeast he hand-cultivated in Italy.
You’ll find plenty of recipes for bread in this book, including “Pane Al Latte” (Milk Bread) and “Trucco Sare” (Whole Wheat Sourdough), as well as various methods to make your own starter.
Also included are recipes for heavenly breakfast dishes, sandwiches, and sweet baked goods, which of course, always catch my eye first. Who can resist “Olanda” (Banana Chocolate-Chip Cake) and “Spirali Di Cannella” (Cardamom Cinnamon Buns)?
For the crostata, you start with a buttery dough made with all-purpose and whole wheat flours that gets the lovely scent of lemon zest.
Just be forewarned that this dough is quite sticky and soft. You definitely have to chill it for at least an hour to make it easier to work with. Even then, I found that by the time I had rolled out the dough into the requisite 12-inch circle, it was not easy getting it into the tart pan because it had already begun to soften too much. Fortunately, it’s easy to patch this dough once you get it into the pan. I ended up placing the tart pan in the freezer for a few minutes just to firm up the dough again. I made a note of that in the recipe below.
Spread store-bought apricot jam over the bottom of the crust. Or use whatever favorite jam you like.
Then, gather up the scraps of dough and roll it into a log to create a rustic lattice over the top of the tart.
The tart is good just that way, but when fresh apricots are in season as they are now, why not add a few halves, cut-side down on top of the tart for extra flourish?
The tart bakes up with a tender cookie-like crust. With the jam on top, it’s almost like a giant linzer cookie in taste. I think the fresh apricots add a subtle hit of acidity that balances out the sweetness from the jam.
This simple tart is perfect for breakfast or dessert with a cup of coffee.
So what are you waiting for? Get jamming on this jam tart.
Crostata Di Marmalata (Quick Tart with Marmalade or Jam)
(Makes one 10-inch round crostata)
1 batch Crostata Integrali (see recipe below)
250 grams (3/4) cup apricot jam or your favorite alternative
About 5 fresh apricots, pitted and cut in half, optional
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the dough an d knead the dough on an unfloured work surface until it becomes malleable. (Don not let it become too warm or it will become unmanageably soft.) Heavily dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out a 12-inch circle of cough and line a 10-inch round tart pan with removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. (If the dough starts to get too soft, just place the entire tart pan in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up.) Gather the dough scraps and roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick rope.
Pour the jam into the middle of the pan and use back of a spoon to spread it evenly (thick patches will sink into the dough). It should not quite touch the edges.
Fashion a tic-tac-toe pattern across the top of the jam with the remaining dough. It need not be perfect — it’s nice when it’s pretty, but for me the lattice is pure function; when it browns deeply in the oven, I know the crostata is done. Place one apricot half in each space formed by the tic-tac-toe pattern, if using. Place the tart pan on a sheet pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top lattice is deeply browned. Cool the crostata in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from the outer ring of the pan and continue to cool on the rack.
Crostata Inegrali (Tart Crust with Whole Wheat)
(Makes one 10-inch tart crust)
200 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour)
40 grams (1/4 cup) whole wheat flour
2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) fine sea salt
168 grams (1 1/2 sticks/12 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
175 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract
Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the butter, sugar, egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, and vanilla in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes, stopping midway through to scrape down the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and gradually bring the mixer to medium speed for 1 minute
Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a 1/2-inch-thick disk. Cover tightly and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and as long as 8 hours. When ready to roll out the dough, allow it to sit unwrapped for a few minutes at room temperature, until slightly pliable.
Adapted from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey
More Fresh Apricot Recipes to Try: Apricot Muffins with A Topping of Crunchy Goodness
And: Slim Apricot Tarts