Brioche dough makes a perfect crust for a tart of juicy fruit like apricots, plums, peaches, or even small pears. A thin coating of almond filling helps to keep the crust drier, but the brioche can also absorb most of the fruit juices without becoming soggy. The almond filling here is twice as much as you need; freeze the rest in a plastic container, covered tightly, and use within a few weeks.
Makes one 11- or 12-inch tart, about 12 servings
1/2 batch chilled Brioche Mousseline Dough (see below)
6 ounces canned almond paste
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 pounds ripe apricots, rinsed, halved or quartered, and pitted
2 tablespoons sugar for the apricots
One 9- or 10-inch tart pan, buttered
Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 400°F.
Set the dough on a floured surface and lightly dust it with flour. Roll it to a disk a little larger than the pan. Fold the dough in half and transfer it to the pan, lining up the fold with the diameter of the pan. Unfold the dough and press it into the pan. Let rest at room temperature while preparing the filling.
For the almond filling, beat the almond paste and sugar on low speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until reduced to fine crumbs. Add the whole egg and beat until the mixture is completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the butter until smooth, then stop and scrape the bowl and beater. Beat in the orange zest, egg yolk, and vanilla. Quickly mix the flour and baking powder together and fold them into the filling by hand using a rubber spatula.
Uncover the dough and press an 8-inch round area in the center of the dough to deflate it, leaving a 1/2-inch thicker rim at the side of the pan all around. Spread the almond filling on the dough—it will be a thin layer. Starting at the outside edge of the crust, arrange the apricots, cut side upward, close to each other. Continue making concentric rows of apricot halves or quarters until you reach the center. Sprinkle the apricots with sugar.
Place the tart in the oven. Decrease the heat to 375°F.
Bake the tart until the crust is well colored and dry and the apricots are softened and juicy, about 45 minutes.
Cool the tart on a rack and serve it warm or at room temperature.
Brioche Mousseline Dough
Softer and stickier than ordinary brioche dough, this is a little difficult to handle but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Flour the palms of your hands rather than the surface or the dough and you’ll have no problems in forming the dough. No matter what size or shape pan you choose, it will look appealing and taste even better.
Makes 2 pounds, enough for 2 tarts
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
1/3 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to 100°F
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups unbleached bread flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Stir the sugar and yeast together in the bowl for a stand mixer, then whisk in the cooled milk. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk again. Whisk in the eggs.
Use a large rubber spatula to stir in the flour, making sure not to leave any in the bottom of the bowl or stuck to its sides.
Using the dough hook, beat the dough on the lowest speed until it comes together but isn’t completely smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
Begin mixing again on low-medium speed and sprinkle in the salt. Add the butter in 8 or 10 separate pieces, then let the dough mix until it completely absorbs the butter and becomes smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough doesn’t absorb the butter easily, stop and scrape down the bowl and dough hook every couple of minutes. Once you see the butter is on its way to being completely absorbed, increase the speed to medium for about 1 minute.
Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl, turn it over so that the top is buttered, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment until it doubles in bulk, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature.
Once the dough has fermented, scrape it onto a floured surface and give it a turn: press the dough into a fat disk and fold one side over the center, then fold the other side over both. Roll the dough down from the top to form an uneven sphere. Place the dough back in the bowl (butter the top again if necessary) seam side down and cover it again.
Refrigerate the dough for a couple of hours or until it rises again and then chills down. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight, but you should bake it within 18 hours of beginning to mix it.