17 September 2009

Plum Tart

My love for plum tarts goes back to my childhood. My mother hardly ever cooked for the family - this role was assumed by my father - but once a year she would make an enormous plum tart, hardly confined by the baking tray it was made on. People may argue that memories are elusive, yet I find food-related memories are acutely present and accessible. The difficulty is rather to recreate what you only remember. I normally can express such thoughts very well and cook what I desire, however, for years, one dish has defated me time after time: my mother's simple plum tart. I have tried a variety of different recipes, with the same result, not a complete failure but no relative however distant of THAT tart. So every year I bake, decide to give up on my quest , only to try it 'one last time' the coming year. And now I have finally found it - thank you, Nicole of deliciousdays.com! Naturally, I had to fiddle a little, for her recipe, click here.

Plum Tart

275 g flour
10 g fresh yeast
50 g sugar
100 ml milk
50 g butter
1 egg
1 kg plums
sugar and cinnamon

Firstly, your ingredients need to be at room temperature, so get them out of the fridge in advance. You may even want to warm your milk up just a little to luke warm. Yeast needs a little warmth to work its magic. Start the dough about two hours before you want to eat your cake if, like me, you love nothing better than a piping hot piece of yeast-based fruit-topped cake. I have two more tipps: weigh rather than measure your ingredients, it is much more accurate, and stretch and punch your dough well. I am not sure whether kneading describes this activity adequately; the right technique is masterfully explained in Richard Bertinet's seminal book 'Dough'. I cannot praise this book highly enough!

Heap the flour into a large bowl, make a well in the middle. Crumble your yeast into the well, add 8g sugar and enough milk to cover (I used 25ml). Stir your milk-yeast-sugar mixture and cover teh bowl with a tea towel. Leave for 20 minutes by which time the mixture should have risen and started to bubble. Now add the remaining milk and sugar, butter and egg. Handle the dough until no longer sticky. Form into a ball, dust lightly with flour, put int the bowl and cover again, this time leave for 1 h in a warm place until doubled in size.

Towards the end of the resting period, preheat your oven to 180 C and prepare your plums. Wash and quarter them, discarding the stone, and marinate in a bowl with as much sugar and cinnamon as you like. I tend to err on the side of caution as I do not want to spoil the fruit's tartness. Roll out the dough to fit a baking tray, place on the lined tray and arrange the fruit on top. Bake for ca. 30 mins, making sure to check the bottom of the pastry towards the end of the cooking time. I should be golden brown and still soft-ish - unless you are aiming for a plum pizza!

PS. One could, of course, add a crumble topping: I loved this from one of the many recipes I tried in the past: crush 10 junpier berries and mix with 26 g sugar, 65 g butter and 70 g flour to make big crumbs.

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