I think late summer/early fall is truly the best time ever for baking, because you can get virtually any fruit or veggie available, with the exception of some early summer berries. But there are apples, pears, peaches, winter squash, just to name the few. And then there’s one of my personal favorites – Italian plums.
Italian plums are smaller and tarter than traditional plums, but they’re ideal for baking. I like to make my Oma’s traditional German plum cake, but after that, the sky’s the limit. I decided to branch out a bit by making a tart with some.
The plums are only available for a month or so, and I saw them at the market as of last week, but who knows how much longer they will last? I’m submitting this recipe to the Eating with the Seasons blogging event.
Italian Frangipane Plum Tart
recipe courtesy Carole Walter
1 11-inch Sweet Tart Pastry crust, baked (see recipe below)
NUT FILLING (FRANGIPANE):
2 ounces almond paste (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon unsifted all-purpose flour
1 large egg white
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and finely chopped, divided
1 1/2 pounds Italian prune plums or other dark purple plums, pitted and quartered
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons water
Place the almond paste, sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a small bowl. (If almond paste is too hard, soften it in the microwave on defrost setting for 30 to 40 seconds). Mash the ingredients together using a pastry blender or fork. Blend in the flour. Add the egg white and mix with a small whisk, making the mixture as smooth as possible.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the toasted almonds. Stir the remaining nuts into the frangipane. Spread the mixture smoothly over the cooled tart shell.
ASSEMBLE THE TART:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven shelf to the lower third of oven.
Place plum wedges in a large bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the plums and shake the bowl to distribute throughout the fruit.
Starting with the outer edge, arrange the plums on top of the frangipane in concentric circles, placing the slices close together. The points of the plums should be wedged high against the side of the tart pan. For the second circle, again position the points of the plums higher, wedging them against, and slightly overlapping, the first row of plums. Fill in the center with the remaining plums.
Place the tart on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until the fruit starts to bubble. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
GLAZE THE TART:
Place the apricot preserves and water in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Strain and let cool briefly. Using a pastry brush, dab the warm apricot glaze on the fruit. Garnish with the reserved almonds.
Sweet Tart Pastry
recipe courtesy Carole Walter
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, firm
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times to blend.
Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse 6 to 7 times. Then process for 6 to 8 seconds. The crumbs should be about the size of coarse meal.
Empty the crumbs on to a cool surface. Form the mixture into a mound. Make a 4 to 5-inch well in the center of the mound. Combine the egg and vanilla, and pour the mixture into the well.
Using a fork, draw the crumbs into the egg mixture, about 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. When all of the crumbs are added, toss the mixture a few times with a pastry scraper to form large clumps, then scrape into a mound.
Using the heel of your hand, fresage or push about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the dough at a time, outward in 6 to 8-inch sweeps. This will incorporate the fat and flour together and give the crust a delicate texture. If your hand becomes sticky, flour it as needed. Repeat the process until all of the dough has been worked. Gather the dough into a mound again, then repeat the entire procedure 2 additional times.
After the third fresage, flour your hands and gently knead the dough 5 or 6 times to make it smooth. Shape into a 4 to 5-inch disk. Dust the disk lightly with flour, score with the side of your hand, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before shaping. Do not let the dough become to hard or it will be difficult to roll. If it does, let the pastry soften at room temperature.