July 19, 2012

apricot tart with rye crust (and Zermatt)


That Mountain! This Tart!

You might be sitting there wondering why I've paired a picture of the Matterhorn with a picture of an apricot tart. Let me explain: while we were hiking in Zermatt I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about apricot tarts. I think it might have something to do with the hike-reward relationship I have established in my brain. It goes something like this; if you hike, you get a reward. I think it's a pretty good system, but what I want to know is why none of the mountain huts we stopped at had apricot tarts. The Swiss seem to consider buttery-bacon Rösti and creamy-cheese Spätzle a reward, which is a decent consolation prize, I admit, but where are the slumped apricots with pastry pulled up over their marigold middles smelling sweetly of cinnamon and sugar?

I should know better than to expect galettes in Switzerland. The fruit tart favored by the Swiss is a custardy concoction with stray pieces of fruit floating about like toddlers in a kiddy pool. The fruit is merely a decoration, the jiggly yellow base a priority. I know, I get it, dairy is kind of a big deal in this country. But perhaps the middle of summer, in the middle of the apricot region of Switzerland, an exception could be made and the rainy day custards could put aside in favor of fruit-centric tarts. It's too much to ask, I know that too, because as much as they love their dairy they love their traditions more. I give in and up. I'll just eat my lamb knuckle and follow it up with some vivid imagery of an apricot tart.

Apricot tart, instead of plum or cherry or raspberry, was on my mind for a couple of reasons; I had already eaten two in the previous week, and canton Valais, where Zermatt is located, is the the apricot mecca of Switzerland. It's something about the warm sandy soil and the glacier streams that make the Valais perfect for growing plump sweet apricots. Anyway I think it's safe to say that apricots were in the air that weekend, or at least in the air I was wandering about it. Come to close and you might have been struck by a sudden apricot craving.
As my hiking companions were taking in the beauty and pondering the steady movements of glaciers and the habits of mountain goats I was scouting for fugitive apricot trees and keeping my fingers crossed that I'd happen upon an apricot stand on our way out of town so I could bring home apricots straight from the source. I didn't see any trees or roadside stands, but I did duck into the supermarket before getting on the train and bought a kilo of apricots. My mind was calm. But only until I had my first slice. It was tart, and sour and my face puckered up as if I'd just eaten a lemon. OooEeee! What on earth? This was the mecca! The Hub! The fruit should be sweet and tender and flavorful, but all I tasted was tart. Hmpf! 

Not all was lost. I was still thinking about a galette. And you know what? A tart is a good place for a bad apricot. I should specify. This tart is a good place for a bad apricot. It's all about the nutty, slightly sweet, rye crust and how it balances the tartness of the apricots. They are a perfect pair, an unlikely pair, an atypical pie pair. Pies are usually built around a sweet jamey middle held in by a buttery shell. It's a sweet filling - plain crust type of relationship. The rye crust to apricot filling is different, it's a tart filling - sweet crust relationship. Most pie fillings can be eaten and enjoyed plain, but apricots hover on being too tart for solo consumption, they need the malty, sweet undertones of the rye flour.

And don't try and tell me you don't like rye bread, because this tart is a distant relative of the caraway seed speckled rye bread that we eat along side our eggs. And if you don't trust me, then trust Kim Boyce, she knows what she's doing.
// Apricot Galette with Rye Crust //
adapted slightly from Kim Boyce, Good to the Grain

 a couple notes
- this tart is not something that can be whipped up. The dough needs a long stay in the fridge and then once the tart is assembled it needs to be put in the freezer before baking.
- I first followed Boyce's crust instructions but found that the resulting dough was not quite as flakey as I wanted. Using the exact same ingredients but the Tartine method resulted in a flakier dough. I don't think it's Boyce, I just think that the Tartine method insures you don't overwork the butter and the dough, which results in a flakier, lighter crust.
- Boyce calls for boysenberries to pair with the apricots. I couldn't find boysenberries, but I did use blueberries for one tart and blackberries for another. I also think it's good without berries, just apricots.

ingredients for the dough
needs to be made ahead
for two galettes

6 oz / 1 1/2 sticks butter, cold
3/4 cup ice water

1 cup rye flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes and place it in the freezer. Place the water in the freezer as well. Chill both for about 10 minutes.

Measure and mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Spread the dry mixture into a rectangle - 1/3 inch deep - on your work surface. Place the butter cubes over the flour. Toss a bit of the flour over the butter so that the rolling pin won't stick. Apply pressure to the rolling pin and start rolling. When the butter flattens out into long thin strips use a bench scrapper to fold the mixture back to it's original size. Repeat the roll and scrape 3 or 4 more times. Make a well in the center of the dough and pour in 7 tablespoons of ice water. Scrape and scoop the dough over the water, cutting the water into the dough. Once you have a shaggy mass squeeze the dough to see if it comes together. If it is too dry add additional ice water a tablespoon at a time. Roll the dough into an 8.5 x 11.5 inch rectangle. It will be shaggy, but don't add more water as it will come together during rolling. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Roll out again into a rectangle. Repeat this fold and roll about 3 times, until you have a cohesive dough. Transfer the dough to plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. (the dough can also be frozen in rectangle form and thawed out before rolling and adding fruit)

rolling out the butter - before adding the water
ingredients for the fruit filling
enough for two galettes

2 lbs ripe apricots
1 1/4 cups apricot jam
2 - 4 tablespoons sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
1 1/2 cups boysenberries (I used blueberries in one round, blackberries in another and left them out in the third tart - the tart featured here)

1 egg
1/4 sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or if a little more if you're like me and love cinnamon)

Cut the apricots in half and discard the pits. Mix the apricot halves with the sugar and 1/2 cup of apricot jam. In a separate bowl mix the berries with 1/4 cup of jam.

Divide the dough in half, keeping one half chilled while you work with the other. Flour the work surface and roll the dough into a circle about 15 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Smear 1/4 cup of jam in the center of the dough. Pile half of the apricots and half of the berries into the center of the dough. Fold and an edge of the dough over the fruit and towards the center of the tart, leaving about 3 inches of fruit showing. Continue folding the dough over the fruit, pinching the edges where there might be gaps, until the fruit is encircled.

Make the second tart the same way

Freeze both tarts for at least hour. While the tarts are freezing preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.

Whisk the egg until there are no streaks of whites and the yellow is a cohesive color. Stir the sugar and cinnamon together. Take the baking sheet out of the freezer. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mix over each tart, on both the crust and the fruit. Don't skimp, the cinnamon-sugar makes for a wonderfully crisp shell.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the tart is golden brown and juices have begun to bubble and seep.

Unbaked tarts will keep well wrapped and frozen for up to one month.


  1. What beautiful photos! I love Kim Boyce's book. I love rye bread. And I love apricots. I think that means I'm going to have to make this myself.

  2. Where did you go hiking in Zermatt? This place looks vaguely familiar to me.
    You picked out great weather to go hiking, your pictures are beautiful.

  3. Molly - I'm a rye bread lover too. I think I inherited it from my dad who's bread of choice has always been rye, even for grilled cheese. And yes, Kim Boyce, isn't she just the best? Everything in Good to the Grain has so much flavor. Thanks for visiting!

    Lena - Zermatt is the best! The restaurant is called Chez Vrony, it is just down from the Sunnegga ban. This may sound criptic unless you've been to Zermatt but we hiked 3-to-5-to-9-to-11 and on to Chez Vrony. (All the hiking trails are numbered). And yes, the weather cooperated, for once!

  4. I ended up with a bag of seriously tart apricots recently, and you're right, they can be quite a shock. The tart looks amazing- I LOVE a rye crust!

    1. so glad to hear you are a rye lover as well! And yes, a tart apricot yields a surprising bite, however, I kind of love the tart ones as well.

  5. Talley! I must tell you, yesterday I bought a bag of apricots from a local market, and I am already addicted to them. I also have pork chops in the fridge and a bag of pine nuts---going to make your pork & apricots tomorrow night! I'm so excited. Unfortunately my excitement has led me to also plan to make a bruleed apricot tart and apricot dumplings... and now this apricot gallette! I hope I end up making them all. Thanks for the inspiration (and introduction to apricots) and I'll let you know how the pork goes. xx

    1. !!!! So glad to hear you are going to try the pork-apricots-pine nuts. I've made it three times already. I adjusted the third time and used a pork tenderloin and mustard, but the apricots were still there, still the centerpiece, so I consider it part of the bunch. I hope you like it. I'm also so glad to hear that you have an apricot addiction as well. I've already eaten three today and I plan on eating many more. Have a great weekend!

  6. Great article and yummy pictures! Apricots have always been one of my favourite fruit (why of course, considering the best are grown in my home canton of Wallis :) I do not buy them in the supermarket though (where a lot of times the apricots sold are from Spain or France); too bad you didn't come across a farmer's market or a roadside stand.
    For your next trip to Zermatt I'd recommend to stop by Z'Mutt (Gusti & Konsti Perren); they make a great apricot tart, as well as plum (Zwetschge) and a fantastic apple strudel. Oh, and of course, all other menu items are really delicious, too :) (I'm a dessert person..).
    As for the custard in Swiss tarts, I don't like them all that much either and have to mention there are surely places/bakeries/markets where you can get them "galette-style" :)
    Thanks for the apricot inspiration, I think it's time for me to start my annual batch of jam :)

  7. Talley, I love this post! Those mountains! Why didn't we go on NOLS in Switzerland? And why didn't we bake apricot tart on our whisperlite stoves? Lovely post and oh-so-convenient as I have a bag of apricots from the farmer's market on my counter.

  8. Well. You know how I feel about apricots. And I happen to have some rye flour around from the last Kim Boyce recipe I tried (the pretzels, maybe? How is it that I can't recall??). It's interesting what you say about the Tartine technique and the potential for over-working the dough. I'm going to try it the way you suggest. (Next week. This week's apricot haul is marked for jam!)

    p.s. Second photo from the bottom - your butter is luminous!

  9. Apricot mecca - now that sounds like the place to be. I've been wanting to make a pie with KB's rye crust for a few years now, but it's usually too hot in my kitchen in the summer to even dream of rolling out pastry. But of course, summer is when the apricots come out. Maybe I'll have to invade a friend's kitchen with central AC...For now, I'll just gape at your gorgeous photos.

    By the way, apricots don't have to be tart - those are just the apricots that we in North America (and maybe Switzerland?) are most familiar with. Adam Gollner wrote a piece in Lucky Peach no. 2 about a quest for the apricot of his childhood in Hungary - apparently there are some amazing varieties of apricot in central Asia, and there's at least one farmer in California, John Driver, who grows candy-like apricots. None of these varieties, of course, are commercially viable. The season's too short, and the fruit is too fragile. One of these days, I'll have to trek out to California for apricot season. Check out the article if you can. You'll want to head to California too :)