My oven’s been on the fritz. Had a Sears guy out this a.m., which makes three visits. Three no-resolution visits. He took the brain out again, which had already been sent to Illinois for repair, returned, and reinstalled, to re-send. This after much telephone conversation with putative experts on the other end of the line, one of whom finally responded affirmatively to his out-of-ideas question about should he send the board in again. You might think it’d be a little comforting that he the actual tech had his calls end several times and was left hanging on hold for, at one point, a solid 30 minutes. Techs, they’re just like us, blahblahblah. No, I can tell you, it was not, comforting. It was only more no-working-oven.
Anythewho, at some point in this sad interim I bought a countertop oven so I could investigate a Mary Berry tart that had intrigued me. So I could BAKE, in other words. I just finished a rewatch of Masterclasses from The Great British Bake-Off, in anticipation of the new season, and Mary illustrated Season 4’s two-crust fruit pie sig chal with her Wobbly Apricot Tart—wobbly referring to the top crust following the undulating apricot curves. What caught my baker’s eye (other than calling for marzipan, which matched up nicely with an overstock in my pantry) was the high proportion of powdered sugar in the pastry, which I could see resulting in a nice crisp crust, just as Mary said. It is unsurprising in the extreme that she Mary was right. Very nice tart pastry. The thin top crust revealingly draping the fruit underneath like a bias-cut sheath is some kinda genius.
I used big yellow peaches, peeled and sliced, in the first one—we’d just returned from a mini road trip to the Santa Ynez Valley with the usual fruit-and-veg souvenirs. Very well received by those who 1. like a piece of such things with tea in the morning, and 2. like a piece of such things with Dr. Who late at night. (These are the same people.)
Second one used the last Santa Ynez white nectarine and last blackberries. (This iteration remains the favorite of one of the Dr. Whoers.)
Third, and fourth: Santa Ynez jonagold apples, only just in season when we drove past Dittmar’s, and very good for baking. One of these I served to neighbors after dinner, sending the remainder home with an attendee, because tea and Dr. Who were covered by already-baked #4. The other day, the final three small jonagolds were baked into #5.
I made just a couple of changes, in service of supporting my habit of finishing the top of tarts with a sprinkle of large-gauge sparkling sugar—I added a teaspoon or two of water to the egg I beat for the pastry, and held back a scant teaspoon to brush on the top before sugaring and baking. Mary goes for a post-bake dusting of icing sugar from her always-to-hand dredger; we each have our tart habits.
In conclusion: Countertop oven does a nice job on tarts, even has convection; Sears doesn’t give a flying fig if my Master Protection Agreement-covered appliance ever works again; and, I’m going to need more marzipan.
Find Mary’s recipe here: Wobbly Apricot Tart.