Thursday, August 16, 2007

Plum tart

The plum tree in our garden here in France is shedding fruit indefatigably, like a magician from a cloak. You feel that you have to do something with it, even if you can make only a small inroad on the total.

We have bought a 28 cm tart tin with a removable base. I made a pastry with 220 g of flour, 110 g of butter, a tbsp of sugar, and enough iced water to form a dough. I prefer not to enrich pastry with egg, especially if it is to be a base for something rich and eggy. I dropped the ball of dough into the tin, and spread it out with my hands. (There is more about pastry here.)

I was not sure about whether or not to bake the pastry blind. I reasoned that the plums would not saturate it as a quiche custard would, and that putting the tin on a baking sheet would help the pastry to crisp. There were disagreements about the result. I felt that the pastry was underdone; our guests, probably out of politeness, said that they preferred it that way.

I should have measured the quantity of plums I used. There were enough, whole, generously to cover the tin -- perhaps about 700 g, unstoned. I halved and stoned them. Then I did something unnecessary: I put the plums into a saucepan with a sprinkling of sugar and a little water, covered the pan, and cooked them until soft. I overdid it; and they might have softened satisfactorily anyway. I arranged them in the tart.

Recipes differ in their instructions over custard. Some suggest that you make a custard, pour it into the pastry base, cook until set, then lay the fruit on top and cook further. Others tell you to make the custard in a saucepan, set it in the fridge, and spread it over the tart base. The third method is to pour custard over the tart towards the end of cooking. I chose the third method.

I cooked the tart for 25 minutes at gas mark 6/200 C. Meanwhile, I reduced the plum liquid to a syrup in a small saucepan, and in a bowl I beat two eggs, whisking them with a dstsp of sugar, a tsp of vanilla essence, three tbsp of creme fraiche, and a little milk -- about 75 ml of liquid altogether, I should guess. (This is a very thick custard, compensating for the liquid in the plums.)

After the 25 minutes, I poured the syrup over the plums, and baked the tart for five minutes longer. I turned down the oven to gas mark S/130 C, poured the custard over everything, and waited for another 30 minutes, by which time the custard was set. I allowed the tart to cool in the oven.


Anna said...

With autumn not far off, would you consider doing a post about crumble making. I would like to know why my crumble goes soggy sometimes, sort of slipping into the fruit mixture. I've written about it on Eco-Worrier blog here

Thanks - and keep the good recipes coming. Anna

spa soil screening said...

Nice post.But I would like to ask why my crumble goes soggy sometimes, sort of slipping into the fruit mixture.

Nicholas Clee said...

Might your filling be too liquid?