It's plum season here in the East Bay and the trees are putting out a riot of small yellow, red and purple orbs. As a result, the sidewalks in my neighborhood are a sticky mosaic of smeared patches and tiny dried pits from the fallen fruits.
I took a walk in the Oakland hills with some friends a few days ago and came home with a bucketful of foraged plums. Aren't they gorgeous? I love the mix of colors from the different trees.
I was inspired to make this tart by a recipe in On Rue Tatin, a wonderful book about food and life in France, written by Susan Hermann Loomis. Her recipe called for nectarines but it works equally well with either plums or peaches. I find the process of making a free form tart extremely fun and satisfying -- somehow it feels way more creative than making something like a pie. Hope that you enjoy this lovely taste of summer.
Rustic Plum Tart
* 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a bit more to flour your work surface
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 10 Tbsps (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 3 - 6 Tbsps ice water
* 1 pound plums (or peaches , nectarines, or apricots)
* 5 Tbsps granulated sugar
* 1 tsp of corn starch
* 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
* 1 Tbsp granulated sugar for sprinkling
1. Make the dough. In a food processor, pulse flour and salt a few times to combine well. Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour, then pulse until the texture resembles coarse corn meal and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas (will probably take 12-15 pules). Sprinkle the mixture with 1 tablespoon of the ice water and process for 1-2 seconds; repeat until the dough begins to form into small clumps and holds together when you pinch it with your fingers. Turn the dough out onto a smooth, floured work surface. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, you can add a bit more water but add water sparingly -- you can always add more but you can't take any back... Kneed the dough with the heel of your hand until it is cohesive and seems workable (but don't overdo it or the crust will be tough.) Form the dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap it waxed paper or put it in a plastic bag (I hate Saran wrap but you can also use that), and refrigerate it until cold and firm but still workable, about 1 hour.
2. While the dough is chilling, prepare the fruit for the filling. Halve and pit the fruit and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Combine fruit in medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups) and set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Using a floured rolling pin on a floured surface or a sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough to make a 12-inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Slide the dough carefully onto a baking stone, insulated baking sheet or just a plain old pie dish (this was my solution) and set aside for a minute. If the dough has gotten too warm while you were working with it, put it in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down. Or if it feels too cold and stiff, leave it out to soften a tiny bit while you finish up with the filling.
4. Sprinkle fruit with sugar, lemon juice and corn starch and toss gently to combine. Mound the fruit in the center of the circle of dough, leaving 2 1/2-inch border around edge. Carefully grasp one edge of dough and fold up outer 2 inches over fruit, leaving 1/2-inch area of dough just inside of fold free of fruit. Repeat around circumference of tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches; gently pinch pleated dough to secure, but do not press dough into fruit. When you've finished pleating, brush the dough with water and sprinkle the whole thing evenly with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
5. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 50 to 55 minutes. If you baked the tart on a baking stone or cookie sheet, carefully slide it onto a wire rack and cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving (hint, hint: this goes very well with ice cream...)
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