The apricot trees in our Tuscan orchard were dripping with fruit a few weeks ago. It was all we could do to keep up with them and because I didn’t have the time to make jam, I decided to try and make a really simple tart.
As an American, I ate a lot of pie growing up, but they seemed to be complicated affairs. The idea for this was inspired by a stay at friends of ours in Lyon last summer as we drove up for our annual sojourn in London. We stopped at their beautiful house for a couple of days. One evening for dessert, there was a pie that one of their daughters had baked before she went out for the day and just left there – uncut – for us to enjoy. We never even saw her to thank her.
Having grown up with deep fruit pies where the fruit is mixed with a few other ingredients, I loved the simplicity of this girl’s pie – beautiful pastry, just touch of jam and sliced fruit laid on top without any mixture to clutter the picture. It was so pretty and so good that I could’ve eaten the whole thing. I didn’t and it was shared out, but I have dreamed about it since.
So, I fiddled about a bit in the kitchen and hit upon the recipe below that is pretty good, too – and so easy – that we’ve enjoyed pretty much a tart a day.
I love making pastry with wholemeal flour because we can enjoy dessert without eating white flour – which does nothing nutritionally and is stressful for the body. Wholemeal pastry is harder to work with because it doesn’t have the elasticity of white pastry and tends to crack. If this happens, simply ‘glue’ it back together by painting it with water from your fingertip and smoothing it together.
Nectarine Wholemeal Tart
Simple and pretty, this pie is so wonderful that I find myself making it again and again. I use whatever fruit is available and from our trees have used apricot and plum. For this recipe, I tried nectarines, which were calling my name from the fruit stand.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Storage: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
For the pastry:
240g/2 cups wholemeal spelt or wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
70g/ 1/3 cup cane sugar
½ tsp fine sea salt
80ml/ 1/3 cup sunflower oil, plus oil for greasing
2-4 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
1-2 tbsp no-added-sugar peach or apricot jam
2 medium firm nectarines, pitted and sliced
1 Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and grease a 30cm/12in shallow tart tin with oil. To make the pastry, mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil and mix well, then add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time and toss with a fork until the dough is moist enough to form a dough.
2 Roll the pastry out on floured parchment paper to 31cm/12 ½ in diameter and trim around the edges, using a sharp knife to neaten. Put the tin, face-down, on top of the pastry, then, holding the parchment paper and tin together, turn them over to drop the pastry into the tin. Ease the pastry into place, pressing down gently to remove any air pockets. Neaten the edges with a knife and prick the base well with a fork.
3 Spread the jam on the pastry and then arrange the nectarine slices in tight, concentric circles. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is just beginning lightly brown and the nectarines have slightly softened. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.