PLUM APRICOT TART (gluten free, egg free, low sugar, vegan option)

My friend Lauren is getting married in August, and I am in the bridal party. My good friend Becky (another bridesmaid) and I threw Lauren a bridal shower yesterday. About 15 people attended, and we threw it a local park. Becky and I had a lot of fun planning our lunch menu for the party, since we are both total food nerds and love cooking and baking. The food table was bursting with fresh fruit salad, roasted vegetables with fresh pesto (recipe to come!), millet tabbouli (ditto!), sandwiches (not for me!), and dilly smoked salmon triangles (for me!).
For dessert, Becky baked beautiful lemon blackberry cupcakes. When Becky bakes, she doesn't mess around. She made a lemon cake batter from scratch, filled it with fresh blackberry puree, and finished it off with a homemade lemon buttercream, a crystallized pansy, and a mint leaf. I think she should make cupcakes and cakes as a side business.
I wanted to contribute a dessert as well (something I could eat!), and decided to make a tart for the event. I love tarts! One reason is because I'm a total Francophile and tarts make me think of all things Frenchie. I get all caught up in the romance of the French when I think of tarts. My French obsession aside, there are many other reasons to love tarts, from their endless versatility to their undying beauty. Plus, tarts have crust, which in my opinion, is basically the best part of any crust-dwelling baked confection. Seriously, I like crust almost more than the filling itself. I was always the one that ate off all the crust from leftover pie, leaving the filling aside for someone else.
Despite my love for tarts, however, I'd never actually made one. I obsessed about this tart all week, looking for an adequate crust recipe, and thinking non-stop about fillings. Inspired by the abundance of fresh plums and apricots available, I decided to go with a stone fruit filling spiced with cardamom and coriander, with a hint of maple syrup. I found the most amazing apricots at the co-op, a variety called Robada. These are the most amazing apricots I've ever eaten - plump, fragrant, juicy, and perfect. For the plums, used a mix of Red plums and Red Raven plums, a plum with deep purple skin and flesh (gorgeous). For the crust, I used a recipe from Bea at La Tartine Gourmande. She is a French food stylist and writer who makes the most AMAZING food and works for the Boston Globe. Check out her blog - her photos are stellar, she often bakes gluten free, and uses the most fresh and wholesome ingredients, so it is great inspiration!
The tart turned out marvelously. My mom is in town for the bridal shower, and helped in the tart process, so I'm going to have her write up a review of how this tart turned out. Bring it on Mom Shar! Here she is, in her blogging debut! >>>
Well, this was a new experience for both of us. I have made pies and quiche but never owned a tart pan. This was going to be fun! The new pan with its smooth dark finish and scalloped edge just called for a tasty delicacy for its virgin run. Kim found a crust recipe to tweak and increase the measurements by half in hopes of having enough for an 11 inch pan. Then after guessing at proportions of coconut oil to butter and making notes along the way, a crust dough appeared in the food processor. The consistency was better than expected and we formed it into a flattened circular blob, wrapped it in plastic wrap and tossed it in the fridge. The next day we let it sit out for 90 minutes before trying to roll it out between layers of plastic. Again, we were not sure if this crust would perform as we'd hoped being gluten free, especially since it had a tendency to crack on the edges as she rolled it out. We juggled the dough awkwardly trying to determine the best way to get it in the pan. So a few maneuvers later involving cookie sheets and flips, it was in the pan. This will get easier as we become more tart smart. Next the prepping of the plums and apricots. They were pristine and perfect fruits. Not mushy at all and we got 16 slices out of each plum. I let the artist design her creation of these vibrant colored half moons. Not all of the slices made it to the tart and we had sweet sticky juice everywhere. They were splendid! A watchful eye through the oven door revealed juicy and glistening fruit and a golden crust. But then the questions of "is it done?" "Is it tender?" "Do you think the bottom got done?" " Is it going to fall apart when we take the outer ring off the pan?" Well, we trusted that with perfect ingredients, how could it be bad... And we were right! On location, we clumsily cut the tart while the rim was still on the pan because we didn't want to impair the visual by having it fall apart. Then, when the first unsuspecting guest lifted her piece from the pan successfully, we quietly squealed with delight and zoomed in to remove the rim and served the tart as it should be, with its little crusty edge just as study as it could be! So, not only did it look like a food stylists creation, it tasted fabulous! The fruit was tart, the crust crisp and the dollop of thickened coconut cream (which we invented late the night before) on top wasn't bad either. We were thrilled. Compliments flowed. And once again, communing with friends and being filled with the love filled creations that feed more than the stomach, makes for a good day. Hugs from Shar, Kim's Mom.
GLUTEN FREE PLUM APRICOT TART (gluten free, egg free, low sugar, vegan option)
yield: 1 11" tart (12-16 slices)

CRUST (crust adapted from La Tartine Gourmande)

3/4 c sweet rice flour
1/3 c + 3 Tbsp cup quinoa flour
1/3 c + 3 Tbsp cup quinoa flakes
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp cup amaranth flour
10 1/2 T cold coconut oil or cold butter/ghee (I used a half and half mix of butter and coconut oil)
3/4 tsp salt
7-9 Tbsp cold water

3-4 thinly sliced large apricots
8 thinly sliced plums (I used a mix of red raven and red plums)
3/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp coriander
1 T maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sweet rice flour
pinch salt

Make the Crust
  1. With a standing mixer, mix flours, flakes, salt, and cold coconut oil/butter until crumbly.
  2. Add cold water by the tablespoon gradually, mixing constantly, until dough reaches a good consistency and starts to pull away from the bowl. Roll into ball, wrap tightly in plastic, and chill for 1-2 hours.
  3. Remove from fridge and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Pat between two layers of saran wrap, and roll out to fit an 11" tart pan, turning every few to ensure it is rolled evenly. Crust should be about 1-1 1/2 larger than pan. Gently transfer to 11" tart pan. Gently press dough into pan and up the sides, trimming even with the top edge of the pan.
  5. Place pan in fridge and chill for 30 minutes.

Assemble the Tart
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash plums and apricots, pit, and thinly slice.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together maple syrup, vanilla, spices, sweet rice flour, and a pinch of salt. Remove crust from refrigerator, and gently brush mixture onto surface.
  4. Then, arrange slices of fruit in crust in concentric circles, packing in as many slices as you can, and alternating colors.

Bake and Serve the Tart
  1. Place tart in pre-heated oven, and bake for 10 minutes at 425 F.
  2. After 10 minutes, turn down heat to 350 F. Bake for an additional 30 minutes until crust is golden and fruit has softened. It will smell GOOD.
  3. Remove tart from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. If not eating immediately, cover cooled tart and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Remove outer tart pan ring and slice tart with a large sharp knife. If desired, serve with a dollop of something creamy (yogurt, coconut milk cream, whipped cream, etc). Enjoy!