Last night, I made a meal for eight people, with three courses, and one plum-almond tart.
I rubbed garlic cloves on slices of toasted baguette, and I spooned tomatoes all happy and relaxed in their juices. I sliced shallots thinly, fried them and promptly ate them all. Whatever was left of the shallots appeared to make their way into my sister’s hands – but I have no blame to give.
I halved two pounds of cherry tomatoes, and I spilled white wine on the floor, which was already partially covered with flour. I rolled meatballs, wine deglazed, drizzled honey and topped tomatoes with jaunty basil leaves that my mom had just picked outside. I used every single bowl we have in our kitchen – twice. It was probably too much food.
All the while, my stone fruit tart whiled away in the oven, biding its time for my attention. And I’ll be darned if it didn’t grab my attention and never let it go. I stuck my face right above it, inhaled, exhaled, inhaled, exhaled, found my happy place, and almost forgot about browning those meatballs on all sides.
Sweet plums, nestled in a buttery dough and sprinkled with ground almonds seems too easy – too simple, but when I set aside the potatoes and the pancetta and turned my attention to this baby, I decided it wasn’t too easy at all. It was that tart. The one you see online and think that it might be too hard or too many plums or maybe they had special plums cause wow – but – I assure you no special plums here. If anything, these were slightly underripe plums, and it was still gosh-darn good.
It was perfect. I kid you not. Make this for your next dinner party and your grandfather will probably suggest you become a caterer, your grandmother will wonder over whipped cream, and your sisters will clamor for more – despite this being the fourth or fifth plate of food. Serve it up, summer style, with vanilla ice cream – or go my route with lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream. Doesn’t matter – these plums will outshine it all.
1⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ baking powder
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
⅓ cup sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk or cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup fine breadcrumbs
½ cup finely ground raw almonds
½ finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons sugar
1¾ pounds ripe plums
1½ tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into little slivers or chunks
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 375F, and butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest, and pile it on a clean work surface. Cut the butter into tiny tiny cubes, and refreeze to harden if needed. Take the butter and put it in a circle around the dry pile. Mix together the egg, milk, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl. Pour into the well in the top of the dry ingredients, and begin to mix together with a fork. When it gets to hard to mix with a fork, begin to use a bench scraper to mix in, making sure to scrape up from the bottom and also to chop the butter in. Once it is cohesive, knead a couple times to get it to come together, form a disk, wrap in plastic, and let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Once it has rested, lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to about 1 1/2 inches wider than the springform pan (mine was about an 11 inch circle). Place it in the prepared pan, pressing down in the edges to make sure it forms the right shape. Ideally this comes up an inch or more on the sides. Trim and mess around with the sides to make them somewhat even – but don’t freak out since this is a rustic tart. Poke all over with a fork, and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While it is resting, mix together the breadcrumbs, ground almonds, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl. Slice each of the plums in half lengthwise, leaving the back edge connected like a book. Pry out pits. If you accidentally cut one all the way in half don’t panic.
Once the tart shell is ready, sprinkle half of the almond mixture (about 1/2 cup) in the bottom, and arrange the cut plums in circles on the top (remember – rustic). Sprinkle the other half of the almond mixture on top, and top with the slivers of cold, unsalted butter and the sliced almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes (mine took close to 55), until the pastry is a dark golden brown and the plums have released their juices. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or whatever your heart desires. Share with family, and enjoy.