Apricot Custard Tart

Serves 8–10

20–24 fresh apricots (depending on size), halved and stoned

2 medium free-range eggs

3 medium free-range egg yolks

50g caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons extra for the apricots

450ml single cream, plus extra to serve

½ vanilla pod

Sweet pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tablespoon caster sugar

150g butter, chilled, cut into 1cm cubes

2 medium free-range eggs, beaten

To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, slowly add one egg and pulse again for just long enough for the mixture to form a ball. Turn the contents out on to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin; you need a circle roughly 30cm in diameter. Use the pastry to line a 23cm deep, nonstick, loose-based fluted quiche tin. Make sure the pastry is tucked into the corner of the tin and leave some overhang all the way round. It is imperative that there are no cracks; if there are, you will not be able to pour in the custard without having a minor disaster on your hands. Reserve a small piece to patch any holes or cracks after baking.

Chill the tart case for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/Gas 6. Very lightly prick the case with a fork. Line with a large piece of crumpled baking paper and fill with a generous amount of baking beans. Bake on a sturdy baking tray in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the paper and beans. Patch any cracks or holes with the reserved pastry. Glaze the inside of the pastry case by using a brush to paint it with the remaining beaten egg. Pop the tart case back in the oven and cook it for a further 5–6 minutes, or until the base of the tart has darkened in colour and

looks crisp and dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Gently, using a small paring knife, cut round the lip of the tart case to remove the pastry overhang. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C fan/160°C/Gas 3.

Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Place the apricots, cut-side up, on a grill pan lined with foil. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoonfuls of sugar. Grill until the sugar has caramelised and the apricots are lightly scorched. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Place the apricot halves in concentric circles within the pastry case, leaning each half at an angle on the one before. In a bowl, lightly whisk the whole eggs and egg yolks with the sugar until pale. Pour the cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod half lengthways, scrape out the seeds into the cream and stir them in. Heat gently for 4–5 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat and beat into the eggs and sugar. Transfer to a jug.

Carefully pour most of the custard mixture around the apricots (not over the top, as the exposed

fruit should not be covered in overcooked custard). Place the tart in the oven and pour in as much of the custard as the tart case will take. Cook for 50–60 minutes. The custard should be only just set, as it will go on cooking when removed from the oven. Tap the edge of the tart case with a finger; there should be only the faintest wobble in the middle. Allow to cool. Just before serving – no earlier, as the custard could crack – lift the tart carefully out of the tin and slide on to a serving plate. Serve with more cream

Recipe(s) taken from the new paperback edition of The Good Table by Valentine Warner published by Mitchell Beazley released on 2nd September 2013