Rustic Plum Tart – Pflaumenkuchen, the end of summer
September 3, 2012 § 4 Comments
Summer is definitely waning. I noticed the switch in July one day. A certain quietness, a shift in the air. The birds are no longer singing, the Blue Jays have now taken over with their noisy calling. The garden is winding down too. The leaves on the cucumber plants have started to yellow. The sunflowers are enormous and following the sun with their huge heads, trying to get all the sun they can. Crickets.
One thing that makes the end of summer a little easier to take is that the plums are here. Italian prune plums, small, oval shaped, deep purple. So delicious when baked into a tart with cinnamon and lemon zest. I buy as many of these as I can, once they’re gone I have to wait until next year to make this delicious Kuchen.
These little plums don’t look like much. I’ve had a checkout girl ask me what they were more than once. They don’t taste particularly great either, nothing like their larger cousins. (You know what I mean by cousins, right?)
They’re really meant for cooking and baking. When heated, they release their juices, both sweet and tart at the same time, and the whole house smells heavenly. I make jam with them too. Just cut them in half, add a little sugar or honey, some cinnamon, a small piece of lemon peel and simmer until tender.
This recipe is from my mother, handed down by her mother, and probably her mother before that, therefore measurements are not quite exact. If you like exact, you could make this with my Farmhouse Berry Cake recipe. Just substitute the plums for the berries.
2 egg yolks
7 TBL butter, softened
grated lemon zest, about 1 tsp
1 to 2 cups flour, I use white spelt but any all purpose flour will do (start with 1 cup and add more if dough is too sticky)
1/2 cup sugar
2 to 3 lbs prune plums
1 tsp vanilla (my mother used vanilla sugar* but this is not easy to get, see note below)
about 2 TBL butter for top
sweetened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the egg yolks with the sugar. Add flour, pinch of salt, lemon zest and vanilla. Work in the butter with a wooden spoon and then your hands until you have a smooth dough. If it’s too soft, add more flour. The dough should not stick to your fingers. Knead a few times on a lightly floured board.
Press into a greased 8” ovenproof dish, a little up the sides to hold in the juices.
Cut the pit out of plums, slice and place on top of dough. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and a dusting of cinnamon. You could put some nuts on top, sliced almond or chopped walnuts. Dot with butter.
Bake until edges are lightly browned and plums juices are bubbly, about 45 minutes.
This tart cries, no screams, for whipped cream. Really, it balances the slightly tart flavor, and I recommend you put a dollop in your coffee too.
* Vanilla sugar can be found in some specialty stores, or you can make your own. Put a few vanilla bean pods into a jar that’s tall enough, and add some sugar (organic is best). Completely cover the pods and let them sit that way for awhile before you use them. Then just replace the sugar each time you use some. For baking, substitute some of the sugar with this.