Plum Tart

September 9, 2008


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I' ve been meaning to make a fruit tart for some time. A few good recipes have caught my eye, but none so delightful as Ina Garten' s plum tart. I made a potato salad of hers for a party this weekend and was absolutely mind-boggled at its goodness. There are two remarkable things about the Barefoot Contessa' s recipes: first, they are all straightforward—none of those Martha Stewartesque Byzantine instructions filled with multi-step processes and utensils you don' t know or own. Second, none of them skimp on the good stuff, yet none taste too rich to enjoy. You won' t find a brownie recipe that calls for less sugar or skim milk, for example. But the richness of Ina' s recipes is always tempered by other ingredients and nothing of hers ever tastes over the top. The plum tart, though not excessively sweet, was the perfect combination of crunchy and gooey. In my opinion, nothing ruins a fruit dessert like too much limp, soggy fruit. But then again, when you pay $8 for the season' s finest organic plums, you don' t want those to get overshadowed by an overly absorbent and spongy dough, either. The crumb crust for this tart was a nice balance of nuts, butter, flour and brown sugar and created a perfectly crispy top and bottom that held onto the plums nicely as they melted into bubbly oblivion. I will probably use this exact crust for all of my future fruit tarts—unless I want them open faced. This recipe could easily work with peach, nectarine, berry or even rhubarb instead of plum. The crust below prevents this from buckling, but the dough is not so thick that the juice of the fruit doesn' t run out along the edges and through the sides. Serve this warm with a bit of vanilla ice cream and you will forget your troubles, Tom Thumb.

Here' s Ina' s Plum Tart Recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Removefrom the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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