Spungata (Ligurian Apricot Tart)

Spungata (Ligurian Apricot Tart)

This delicious fruit tart, called spungata in Liguria and spongata in neighbouring Emilia-Romagna, is similar to what other Italian regions call crostata. In Liguria it’s often given as a gift when visiting friends and family. Apricots are a common filling, but it’s also made with apples, pears and other fruits; the apricots are quite tangy, so if you like it sweeter, double the honey. The nuts, spices and dried fruits used vary depending on what each cook prefers, so feel free to adapt. The butter-rich pastry can be tricky to work with as it becomes soft quickly, it’s very forgiving though and can always be popped back into the fridge for 10 minutes or so to make it more manageable. Because it is so soft, I find it easiest to handle if it’s rolled between 2 sheets of baking paper. The dough can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, just bring it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before rolling.

Serves 6–8

Ingredients
  • 120g sun-dried apricots
  • 1 tablespoon sultanas
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 30g candied orange, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shelled walnuts
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Icing sugar, for dusting


Pastry

  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g castor sugar
  • Salt flakes, to taste
  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Method
  1. Make Pastry: place all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, rub everything together, then mix with your hands to form a smooth, soft dough. Roll into 2 balls, 1 slightly larger than the other (about 300g and 250g). Press both of them into thick discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30–60 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place apricots in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and boil gently for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  3. Place sultanas in a small bowl, cover with warm water and set aside.
  4. Drain cooked apricots (reserve the cooking liquid as it makes a good drink).
  5. Place apricots in a mixing bowl and set aside to cool a little.
  6. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  7. Mash apricots into a jam-like consistency.
  8. Add honey, candied orange, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  9. Drain sultanas, squeeze gently to remove excess liquid and add them too.
  10. Stir to combine everything well. Set aside.
  11. Remove dough from the fridge and, between 2 sheets of baking paper, roll the larger ball into a disc about 30cm-wide.
  12. Remove the top sheet of paper and turn the pastry into a 25cm loose-base fluted tart tin.
  13. Gently press it into the tin to line the sides and base, using any overhanging pieces to fill any gaps. Run a sharp knife along the rim to cut off any excess pastry (use any of this if needed to fill any holes or gaps).
  14. Between 2 sheets of baking paper, roll the smaller ball into a 25cm-wide disc.
  15. Remove the top sheet of paper, gently place the tart tin on the pastry and cut around it leaving a 5mm margin. Remove tart tin and set pastry disc aside.
  16. Spread the apricot mixture evenly over the pastry base.
  17. Top with the smaller disc and press it gently around the edges to seal the tart.
  18. Run a sharp knife along the rim to cut off any excess pastry.
  19. Bake for 20–30 minutes, until golden and crisp.
  20. Set aside for 15 minutes or so, then dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

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