I have this enormous binder full of recipes I would like to try. Also vying for my attention are numerous cookbooks that I have yet to try a single recipe from, cookbooks with little post-its next to recipes I have to try, internet recipes and now – recipes I have seen on food blogs. Score one for the binder today. I am going to try a Pluot Pinwheel Tart torn out from Bon Appetit magazine one year ago.
Tarts rank up there among my favorite desserts. Not that I have a sweet tooth per se, I am more of a savory person.
It does mean that if I am going to go for dessert it has to be good. And it has to have layers. I don’t mean a three-tier cake – rather layers of flavours and textures. Fruit is good, nuts, some cream maybe.
That is why I don’t get all the fanfare that cupcakes get? It’s a victoria sponge (usually on the dry side) with butter cream on top (usually on the “yuk, this is rich” side). Sure they are cute, sitting there in their colourful paper wrappers, with pastel icing swirled on top and sprinkles or sparkles or whatever. But dessert has to be about more than just looks!
Tarts fulfill my criteria because they have a nice crispy base, they can be filled with a creme pattisiere or it can be a lemon tart or a chocolate and salty caramel tart (heaven!) or a lemon meringue tart (Mmmmmmm!). You can really push the boat out and add some fruit – maybe a little praline.
Here I am writing about my love for the tart when the last time I made the tart was probably two years ago for Christmas.
Why? Because tarts are hard work!
- First you have to make a pastry, which I usually make in the magimix because I have been scarred by the “rubbing in” procedure they taught us at Leiths cookery school where I did my diploma. They had us “cutting” the butter and flour together with two butter knives for an entire semester! That did not make me love pastry. If there was a long-winded, archaic – insane way to approach a kitchen procedure – they would think of it at Leiths! I totally got laughed out of my first kitchen when I started to do things “the Leiths way – i.e. one hand tied behind my back, blind folded and hopping on one leg! (Ok, taking a deep breath and moving past that now….)
- The rubbing is the straight forward part – the anxiety inducing step comes next when you have to decide how much water to add. All kinds of things affect how much water your pastry will take – the water content of the butter, the flour you are using, even the weather. You can’t throw the whole lot in either because then you will end up with a tough pastry that shrinks in the oven.
- Then you have to wrap it in cling film and let it “rest” for at least half an hour (it would be nice if I got a rest too at this point)
- Then you have to roll it out. This is where I get frustrated, I can’t for the life of me roll a circle. It’s like I am circle impaired or something, I keep turning and rolling, turning and rolling but I always end up with a rectangle with large frayed edges.
- I try to line my tin as neatly as possible given that my pastry is square and the tin is round.
- Then it’s time to let it chill and rest again. Conceivably, all my man handling has tired the poor thing out.
- Next blind baking, where you line the tart with ceramic beans and set the pastry. I hover around anxiously, singing my eyebrows with my frequent “is it done yet?” poking about.
- Ahh, that’s the tart base done – finally! But you aren’t done, next comes the filling, and if it’s a custard filling you have to cook it ever so gently so it doesn’t get a garish slit down it’s middle or worse! Overcooks! Imagine all that effort!
The moral of the story is? Be very grateful if someone serves you up a tart. Unless of course it’s Joy the Baker – who seems to find pastry making an absolute dawdle! Not this blogger here though.
That why I am excited about this tart – because it all goes in the oven at once! The recipe is from Bon Appetit directly, the italics are my comments.
Bon Appetit – Plum Tart – (It’s all in American measures. Sorry!)
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup (or more or less) ice water
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (I used 2 tablespoons brown sugar to sprinkle over the plums instead of white)
- 1/4 cup almond flour or almond meal*
- 13/4 pounds plums (about 5 large or 12 small)
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
Whisk flours, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms. Add 1/4 cup ice water (my dough only took half the recommended water – that is the thing about short crust! It is never straight forward), stirring until clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead (and was). Keep chilled. Let rest 15 minutes at room temperature before rolling out.
Preheat oven to 210°C. Place sheet of parchment on work surface; sprinkle with flour. Roll out crust on parchment to 13-inch round. Using pot lid as guide, trim dough to 12-inch round. Slide crust on parchment onto rimless baking sheet. Chill dough.
N.B. Placing the dough on parchment is such an inspired idea! It saves you having to repeatedly unstick your dough of the workspace, keeps your worktop relatively clean and made it easier for me to try and roll a circle.
Using electric mixer, beat egg white in medium bowl until foamy (For one egg white I say, just use a hand whisk). With machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beating until firm peaks form. Fold in almond meal. Set 1 plum, stem side up, on work surface. Working parallel to pit, cut 1/8-inch-thick rounds off both sides of the plum. Repeat with remaining plums.
Spread meringue over crust. Arrange plum slices, slightly overlapping, in spiral pattern atop meringue, beginning at outer edge and working toward center, turning any end pieces cut side up. Finish with 1 plum slice in center. Brush melted butter over plums; sprinkle tart with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake tart 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 200°C and bake tart until edges are brown, about 20 minutes. Cool tart slightly on pan. Loosen with spatula. Serve warm or at room temperature.