Thursday, August 24, 2006

Plum Tart

It's the season for plum tarts! I would have been quite pleased with this one if only I hadn't scorched it in the first 15 minutes of baking. Luckily the tart still tasted quite good, so I'll definitely make this recipe again.

(To see a non-burnt version with apricots click here).

The recipe comes from Epicurious. I made the following changes: I used less cornstarch in the filling and replaced the crust with a Pierre Hermé recipe that included "pâte pralinée."

This is a paste of caramelized almonds and hazelnuts that I bought while in Paris at G. Detou, a store that sells baking ingredients for professionals. I'm not sure what to do with my kg of pâte pralinée, which has a limited life-span, and can also not recall which recipe convinced me I also absolutely had to procure a kg of glucose syrup, also displayed here...

So when I saw a tart dough that called for pâte pralinée, I jumped on the occasion. Did it taste better? It was good, but perhaps due to the slightly burnt flavor I didn't notice the effect of the praline. It might have made the crust burn faster, though the fruit burned a little too. At the time I was busy on the computer, which is dangerous. The whole house could burn down when I get engrossed in reading blogs.

When I make this recipe again, I'll just use a normal pâte sucrée and watch carefully to make sure nothing burns.

What I liked about this tart recipe is I could make it in stages. One day I made the dough, rolled it out, chilled it between two sheets of parchment paper (as described here), shaped the tart shell and then froze it. The next day I prepared the plums, mixed them with the sugar and lemon juice, and stored the mixture in the fridge. Finally the day after that I assembled and baked the frozen crust with the fruit. All would have gone well, had I only been more attentive to the messages my nose was receiving while I zoned out in front of my screen...

Recipe: Plum Tarts
Source: Epicurious

For pastry dough
[I used another pâte sucrée recipe]
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 sticks (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
4 large egg yolks

For filling
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
[I used perhaps a teaspoon of cornstarch]
3 3/4 lb small plums (preferably prune plums), halved and pitted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Accompaniment: crème frâiche or lightly sweetened sour cream

Special equipment: 2 (9-inch) tart pans with removable bottoms

Make dough: Combine flour, butter, sugar, salt, and zest in a food processor and pulse until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with remainder in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Add yolks and process just until incorporated and mixture begins to clump.
Turn mixture out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. Smear each portion once with heel of your hand in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather together 2 portions of dough and form into a ball; make another ball with other 2 portions.

Pat out each ball of dough with floured fingertips into a tart pan, in an even 1/4-inch layer on bottom and up sides (about 1/8 inch above rim). Chill 30 minutes, or until firm.
[I rolled out my dough and made a rim the same way I did here, then froze the formed crust before baking]

Make filling while shells chill: Stir together sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add plums and lemon juice and toss to coat. Let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes, or until juicy.
[I let my plums stand in the fridge for 24 hours. This produced a great amount of juice. I didn't use all of it, maybe only 2/3, as I was afraid the tart would be too juicy. It was quite juicy enough without this addition.]

Assemble and bake tarts: Preheat oven to 425°F.

Arrange plum halves, skin sides down, in tart shells [I didn't bother defrosting my tart shell], overlapping in a rosette pattern. Halve any remaining plums lengthwise and randomly tuck in between plum halves in tarts. Pour all juices from bowl over plums.

Bake tarts in middle of oven 15 minutes [watch carefully that it doesn't burn during this high temperature baking stage!], then reduce temperature to 375°F. Cover tarts loosely with foil and bake until plums are tender and juices are bubbling and slightly thickened, 40 to 50 minutes more. Brush warm juices in tart over plums. (Juices will continue to thicken as tarts cool.) Cool tarts completely in pans on a rack.

Cooks' notes:
• Tart shells can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
• Plums may stand, coated with sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice and chilled, covered, 1 day. Stir well before proceeding.

Makes 2 tarts (serving 12).
Gourmet Entertains
September 2000


M. said...

Yummy - that's a mouthwatering image, "scorched" or not!


tanya d said...

I'm so glad you posted this. Now I'm inspired to cook with plums. I have a favorite galette dough that I haven't used this season yet. I sympathize on the scorching. It took me three tarte tatins before I managed to not scorch the apples or burn the caramel.

Astrid said...

Martha - Hello, thanks for leaving a message on my blog!

Tanya - I'm working on an apricot tart as I write this. Hope I won't burn it... Which Tarte Tatin recipe do you use? I find no matter how much my apples smell of burnt sugar, it always turns out good, as the bitterness counters the sweetness...

bea said...

This is MY FAV tart! It looks delicious!

indi-princess said...

This is a gorgeous looking tart! I too have been trying and testing Pate Sucre recipes and look forward to seeing which one becomes your favorite.