I decided to make a nice weekday brunch for my parents. I knew I wanted to use up some of my CSA produce, mainly apricots and summer squash. After some digging around the Internet, I settled on two recipes, one sweet, one savory (I can never choose between the two at brunch so I tend to make both). Both recipes called for tart pans with removable bottoms, one in a 9-inch and the other in a 10-inch. I only have a 9-inch and an 11-inch, but they worked out just fine.
For savory, I went with this recipe for yellow squash and mozzarella quiche with fresh thyme. It was perfect because I had gotten the squash and thyme in my farm share, and only had to buy the mozzarella.
Making crust from scratch is so satisfying and it is a dying art. Let me just say here and now that it’s easier than you think and the pay-off is enormous. Not only will it taste better than a store-bought one, but most people will find it quite impressive.
This was a nice and simple quiche. While the crust is blind baking, you saute the zucchini with the thyme, and the hard work is done.
Lastly, you whisk together a simple custard made of eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and a dash of hot sauce, and assemble your quiche.
35 minutes in the oven and voilà:
What you see in the background of the photo above is my sweet choice: an apricot brioche tart. I found a Dorie Greenspan recipe for a brioche plum tart which I modified for use with apricots.
I had never made brioche dough before and was very excited at the challenge. It was much easier than I expected, it just needs a lot of time to rest. Some time soon I want to try to make a simple brioche loaf (and then I can use the left overs for french toast!).
Once the dough has rested overnight (the same went for the quiche dough), the assembly is simple (just like the quiche). You simply spread the bottom with your favorite jam, arrange the stone fruits of your choice on top, and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and the chopped nuts of your choice.
The potential combinations are endless. I will definitely make this again and I’m already imagining the possibilities: cherry/pistachio, peach/pecan, nectarine/hazelnut, I could go on forever…
The brioche puffed up something fierce and looked so good that I really had to restrain myself from digging in before I got to my parents’.
I managed to get them both into my rectangular cake caddy by placing a cooling rack inside and putting one on top and one on the bottom. It’s amazing how many people talk to you and/or stop and stare when you’re carrying homemade baked goods on the subway. One woman even asked, “did you make that crust from scratch?” See what I mean.
I was worried that it would be too much with two tart/pie-type things in one meal, but it was fine. They were both delicious and much-appreciated. I had to try really hard not to eat the entire brioche tart.
Apricot Brioche Tart
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
For the crust
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup whole milk, just warm to the touch
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the tart
8-10 apricots, quartered (or stone fruit of your choice)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds (or nut of your choice)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fruit jam (I used blackberry because I had it in my fridge, but next time I will likely use apricot)
Make the brioche crust
Put the yeast and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the rest of the crust ingredients to the bowl and fit the mixer with the dough hook. Working on low speed, mix for a minute or two, just to get the ingredients together. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 7 – 10 minutes, stopping a few times to scrape down the bowl and the hook, until the dough is stretchy and fairly smooth. The dough will seem fairly thin, more like a batter than a dough, and it may not be perfectly smooth.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, 30 – 40 minutes.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours. If you’ve got the time, leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight, it will be tastier for the wait.
Assemble the tart
This tart looks prettiest when it’s made in a fluted pan. You can use either a 9-inch metal tart pan with a removable base or a porcelain baking dish, the kind sometimes called a quiche pan. Generously grease the pan.
Press the chilled dough into the bottom of the pan and up the sides, don’t worry if it’s not even. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While the dough is in the refrigerator, prepare the filling. Pit and quarter the apricots. Toss the chopped nuts with the sugar and set aside.
Remove the tart pan from the fridge and press the dough up the sides of the pan. Spoon the jam onto the dough and spread it over the bottom. Arrange the apricots, cut side down, in concentric circles covering the jam. Scatter over the nut sugar mixture, and cover the tart lightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Place the tart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Uncover the tart and bake for 15 minutes. Cover it loosely with a foil tent to prevent the crust from getting too dark, and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the fruit juices are bubbling and the crust is firm and beautifully browned, it will sound hollow when tapped.
Transfer the tart to a rack to cool for at least 45 minutes before serving.