I’ve invited you in but haven’t been all here. To be honest, it’s felt like an insurmountable effort to write these days. A giant mountain to scale in order to get into the kitchen and be creative. And as each day gets filled with errands, pickups and drop-offs, chores, playdates and classes, it is all too easy to say “it’s been so busy”. But that’s hardly an excuse for having been so inhospitable lately.
Perhaps I can redeem myself with a peace offering? With a family favourite that will become a favourite of yours as well? Something worthy of making for your mother on Mother’s Day?
Apricot Tart Squares (aka Baracklekváros Rácsos)
adapted from my mother’s recipe
(makes 40 – 2″x1 1/2″ bars)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp quick-rise yeast
pinch of good quality salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large egg yolks
1 large egg
4 tbsp plain Greek yogurt (at least 2%)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
juice and zest of 1 lemon
350ml jar apricot jam
2-3 tbsp dark rum (optional)
2-3 tbsp milk (for brushing over pastry)
turbinado sugar (for sprinkling over pastry, optional)
Preheat the oven to 375F. Set aside a standard baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, yeast and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy. Add the egg and egg yolks, vanilla, yogurt, lemon juice and zest and mix until well combined. It may look a bit curdled but that’s ok.
Add the flour, one cup at a time, and mix until it comes together into a smooth dough. By the final cups of flour, the stand mixer may struggle so you may want to finish combining the dough by hand.
Set aside one-third of the dough and between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the other two-thirds to fit a standard baking sheet with a 1″ border overhanging. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and place the bottom layer with the dough on to a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, vigorously mix together the rum (if using) and the apricot jam. Spread the mixture over the dough on the baking sheet.
Roll the remaining 1/3 of the dough to 1/8″ thickness and cut into 1/2″ wide strips. Lay out half of the strips about 1/2″ apart parallel to one another over top of the filling. Place the remaining strips perpendicular to the original strips, spacing them approximately 1/2″ apart to complete the lattice over top of the filling.
Trim the edges of the lattice flush to the edge of the baking sheet and fold over the overhanging bottom layer. Pinch to secure the edges.
Brush the milk over the pastry and sprinkle with turbinado sugar (if using). Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to 350F. Continue baking for 20-30 minutes or until the lattice is lightly golden.
Cool the tart in the baking sheet on a rack. Cut into bars and serve.
Tips and Suggestions:
When working on the lattice top, you can cut the strips or roll them by hand. If you’ve never made a lattice top, Simply Recipes has a wonderful tutorial on how to make a lattice-top pie crust. Apply the same technique to these Apricot Tart Bars.
To add a wonderful depth of flavour and a crumblier texture to the crust, substitute 3 cups of spelt flour for 3 cups of all-purpose flour. Nuttiness without nuts!
Although apricot jam is our favourite in this recipe, feel free to substitute raspberry or another of your favourite jams or preserves for the filling.
The version pictured below was made in a fluted 4″x10″ tartpan with a hand-rolled lattice top. The remaining bars were baked in an 11″x14″ baking pan.