Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Sticky Autumnal Plum-Half Tart

I had several yellow and red plums left in the fruit basket after the weekend, really on their last legs, plums juicy and bursting to the touch which were virtually popping their stones at a mere touch. 
They made the most delicious plum tart which got lots of compliments from Cork Granny who is visiting for a few days.
I have been keeping an eye out for the past few years for a really good plum tart where the plums are almost whole and not arranged in fine little slices - it is really hard to find.  This one used only plum halves which are big, sweet and sticky.  It looks a little crude but I love its rustic autumnal colours. The mix surrounding the plums comes from a Delia Smith recipe for a Gooseberry Tart using creme fraiche and it goes well with the plums as it just holds them together without soaking up a lot of the juice - so what you get is big mouthfuls of uninterrupted sticky plum.

For the pastry - a regular sweet shortcrust base

200g plain flour
110g chilled butter, cubed
1 tblsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees.

Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl and blend in the butter with your fingertips, keeping the mix airy and light.  You can stop when the butter is in small pieces.
Mix in the egg yolk and combine with your hand until it all comes together into a ball.
Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.(You can also freeze it at this point for use another time).

Roll out the pastry (I find this easiest between two sheets of cling film) until it is bigger than the diameter of the dish and there is enough to run up the sides and more.

Add a disk of tin foil to the centre of the pastry and spread out some baking beans to keep the base from rising up.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove and brush the base with a little egg yolk to seal the base and prevent it from going soggy.  Put it back in the oven for 5 minutes, remove and set aside.

For the filling:

3 egg yolks
150ml creme fraiche
75g golden caster sugar
2 tsps balsamic vinegar

The fruit
8 ripe plums, halved and stoned

Take the blind pastry base and arrange the plums cut side down onto the pastry in a radial pattern or randomly if you are normal and not an architect.
Which together the egg yolks, creme fraiche, sugar and vinegar and pour gently into the case around the plums, taking care not to cover the plums but to simply surround them.

Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until a golden brown colour on top.

Remove it from the oven and, if you can stand the suspense,  leave it to settle for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the tin.  Eat.

This was delicious served just warm with a cup of coffee in the garden this morning looking up at the wonderful Autumn skies that we are having (made extra special if it's your wedding anniversary) ... I hope the weather and the marriage lasts longer than the plum tart!

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