"You could of course use any sweet pastry for this recipe, but I'm particularly fond of this very delicate and only just sweet enough pâte sucrée recipe by Damien Pignolet," says Brigitte Hafner. "It's a little bit of work and not as robust as a pasta frolla, but as it cooks it creates layers of flaky delicate pastry that make the perfect contrast to the rich almond filling. I like to grind blanched almonds instead of using almond meal, because the mixture's moister."
- 280 gm pitted prunes
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 60 ml Havana Club dark rum
- To serve: double cream
- 30 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
- 1 egg yolk, mixed with enough water to make up to 60ml
- 240 gm plain flour
- 200 gm cold butter, cut into small, even cubes
- 125 gm almonds
- 125 gm butter, softened
- 125 gm caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- Finely grated rind of ½ lemon
- 1Place prunes in a saucepan, add cinnamon quill and enough boiling water to cover, cover with a lid and set aside to steep (15 minutes). Drain, add rum and set aside to steep (1 hour).
- 2Meanwhile, for sweet pastry, mix icing sugar and egg yolk mixture in a small bowl until smooth. Pulse flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture is blended but butter remains in lumps. Turn out onto a work surface and bring together with your hands. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture. Lightly fold mixture with your hands until it comes together, then with the heel of your hand push and smear the mixture away from you (this will break down the butter but not overwork the flour). When most of the butter is broken down, bring dough together and knead very gently (do not overwork the dough; you should get a slightly marbled effect with the flour and butter, which will give the pastry layers and a light, crumbly texture). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (30 minutes). Knead pastry gently, then roll out and line a 28cm tart tin. Prick all over with a fork and freeze for 10 minutes or until you are ready to bake. Sweet pastry will keep frozen for a week.
- 3Preheat oven to 175C. Blind-bake the tart shell until set (12-15 minutes), remove paper and weights and bake until golden brown (10-15 minutes), then set aside on a wire rack to cool.
- 4Meanwhile, for frangipane, process almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale, then add eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition, until well incorporated. Fold in lemon rind and ground almonds and set aside.
- 5Drain prunes (discard liquid), arrange them evenly inside tart shell, spoon frangipane over and press evenly around prunes. Bake until the top is golden brown (40-45 minutes). Set aside to cool, then cut into wedges and serve with double cream.
Hot tip Make a double batch of pastry and keep one in the freezer already rolled and lined in the tin. You'll be miles ahead the next time you want to bake a tart.
Drink Suggestion: Old Armagnac. Drink suggestion by Max Allen