There’s a smell to the summer holidays of my youth that I can’t describe or define but which still haunts me. This friendly phantom will appear unannounced as a waft of a hardly remembered past that is filled with detail but is passing too fast for me to recognise anything but for the fact that it is the scent of something very good that can be temporarily revived but never relived. I had bought some apricots and whilst I was thinking about how on earth I could improve on them the scented memory was there and gone as quickly as it came. I put the apricots in a dish and sprinkled them with plenty of sugar and a tablespoon of water before baking them in a slow oven until they were soft. Whilst they were cooking and cooling I lined a tart tin with sweet, short pastry and blind baked it. The apricots were soft enough for the stones to pop out, and I filled the case with the scented fruit being careful not to put too much liquid in with them. Some polenta sprinkled on the bottom of the case absorbed any extra juice. Five or so minutes before the tart was cooked I beat an egg yolk with 75ml of creme fraiche and poured it over the tart. It hasn’t brought back the smell of holidays past but I’m very glad I made it.
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