Alsatian Plum Tart
To say I love plums would be an understatement. I love them so much, I always make sure to buy double the amount required for a recipe, because I know that if I have them on hand, I will snack on them and as goes the rule for Gin Martinis it also applies to my apetite for raw plums – “One is all right, two is too many, and three is not enough.” (James Thurber).
I didn’t have a plum tree in my yard growing up, but my neighbours did and it had grown branches that extended over onto our side and the unwritten rule was that all the fruit that was growing on our side of the fence was ours to keep, which actually translated as “mine to devour”. All of the other plums that were bought from the market were turned by my Grandma into Magiun (traditional sugar-free jam), Plum Dumplings (absolutely hated these as a child, but now I adore them) and Plum Sponge Cake.
I love to use my plums in tarts, crumbles, cakes and sometimes I like to just pop them in the oven and roast them with a bit of honey and cinnamon to be eaten on their own or over a bowl of Vanilla Ice-cream or to top oatmeal.
Last week I was given the mission to make an Alsatian dessert for The Wine Club at MARe Café, that I co-own with my husband and a friend. After doing some research, I decided on this Tart aux Quetsches as they call it in Alsace. What really intrigued me is that the tart has no filling, there’s the Pâte Brisée, the plums, a little sugar and cinnamon. I made a test tart and was so delighted by the taste, that I decided to stick with it for the evening’s dessert, but in all honesty I’ve since made two more as everyone in my family loved it. Without further ado, this is the recipe:
Alsatian Plum Tart or Tarte aux Quetsches
For the Pâte Brisée:
175g/1¼ cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp sugar
113g/1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 2,5cm.1 in. pieces
60-75ml/¼ – ¾ cup ice-cold water
In a food processor, whizz the flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add the butter and pulse or process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour 60ml/1/4 ice-cold water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together. Add remaining water only if necessary and do not over-process.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface, shape it into a ball and flatten it into a disk, cover with baking paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.
For the Filling:
900g/2 lbs plums, washed, halved and stones removed
50g/1⁄3 cup semolina
150g/¾ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 220C. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a 30cm/13in. round and fit into a 20cm/9in tart pan, with or without a removable bottom. If you’re using a rectangular tart pan, roll the dough accordingly. Trim edges flush with rim and prick base wll over with a fork.
Sprinkle semolina all over the tart base, then sprinkle 50g/1⁄4 cup sugar over the semolina. These will help absorb the excessive fruit juices and prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. Then, place each half plum next to each other as vertically as possible. Sprinkle with 50g/1⁄4 cup sugar, then place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 50g/1⁄4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon powder. Allow to cool and serve.