Plum Tart

Have you ever wanted to make something, just because it’s pretty? There has been a lot of ugly around here lately (ugh, potty training), and I felt like I needed to lift my spirits with a little bit of pretty. Last week I saw this picture on David Lebovitz’s blog, and I “oohed” and “ahhed” over it. Then I noticed some tasty-looking plums at the market, and something told me to go for it.

I had plums and a good idea of what I wanted the tart to look like, but what about the flavor? I really wanted the plums to be the star, so they needed a crust that was not-too-sweet to let the plums’ sweetness shine. I reviewed a lot of recipes for tart dough, and finally settled on the one used in David’s Chez Panisse Almond Tart. (I figured that was appropriate, since the photo that had inspired me had been taken at the Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary party.) I swapped out the all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour, omitted the almond extract, and added a bit more water to get the dough to come together.

Assembling the tart was a little tricky, until I realized that I needed to start from the outside and work my way in. It felt more like making a sculpture than just cooking, and I liked tapping into that creative side of my brain. I couldn’t help but smile and admire my handiwork when I got the plums to look like the picture in my head.

What I am most proud of, is the fact that I took a risk while baking, and the results were not a disaster. Actually, they were just what I had hoped for–a tart that capitalizes on one of my favorite fruits, isn’t too sweet, and is pretty. This is quite a feat for me, since I don’t make desserts that often, and I always follow a recipe when I do. (When my older son saw that I was baking a tart he asked, “Whose birthday is it?” Yeah, that’s how often I bake!) To top it all off, while I was basking in the prettiness of my tart, these handsome guys below decided to make an appearance in my yard. It almost made me forgive them for eating the flowers off of my hydrangea. (Almost.)

Plum Tart (inspired by this photo & crust adapted from this recipe; many thanks to David Lebovitz)

  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) cold butter
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (see Notes below for substitutions)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 5 plums
  • 1/4 cup quince jelly (see Notes below for substitutions)
  • vanilla ice cream (for serving)
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and sugar.
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes. Cut the cubed butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the vanilla extract & water and gently knead into a ball of dough. Shape into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. While the dough is chilling, thinly slice the plums into a medium bowl (see Notes below for some plum slicing tips). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside a baking sheet.
  4. Place the parchment paper onto your countertop and dust with flour. Unwrap the dough and place on the floured paper. Roll the dough into a large circle that is approximately 1/8-inch-thick. (See Notes below for some dough rolling tips.)
  5. Pick up the parchment paper (with your dough on it) and place it on your baking sheet. Arrange the sliced plums in circles (it helps to start outward and work your way in). Cut the dough so that there is about 1-inch around the plums. Use your fingers to pinch the dough around the plums.
  6. Heat up the quince jelly until it is liquid-y (about 30 seconds in the microwave). Use a pastry brush to glaze the plums with the jelly.
  7. Bake the tart for 15 minutes. Reheat the jelly (so that it is a liquid again) right before the 15 minutes are up. Glaze the tart again with the jelly and bake for another 15 minutes. Reheat the jelly (again!) right before the second 15 minutes are up. Remove the tart from the oven, glaze with the jelly, and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  8. Carefully slide the parchment paper (with the tart) onto a plate. Trim the parchment paper so that it isn’t hanging off of your plate. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Cut into slices and serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Serves: 8
Time: approximately 40 minutes active prep, plus 30 minutes baking and 1 1/2 hours chilling
Notes: If you only have regular whole wheat flour you might want to use 1/2 cup of it mixed with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. I think you could use any light-colored clear jelly (i.e. apple, apricot, plum) in place of the quince jelly. To slice the plums, I recommend cutting the plums around their middle, twist them apart, and use a melon baller to remove the pit. Then place each half flat on your cutting board and slice them as thinly as possible. When you roll out the dough, make sure that you have flour underneath the dough and on your rolling-pin. You might need to lift up the dough a little bit and add more flour underneath if it starts to stick. Best advice I can give about rolling out any dough–just go for it!
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