Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Plum Tart

Plums are an underused fruit in my opinion and one that when baked and used in cooked dishes is truly delicious. This is really simple to prepare and like most of the recipes I gravitate towards and prefer to develop, speedy to make.

I prefer to eat it warm with a dollop of clotted cream or some ice-cream slowly melting as it hits the warmth of the tart, but it can be served cool. The base of the tart has an almost biscuit-y like texture but is not as short as pastry tends to be.  Because of this, I find that this tart is also delicious served with warm pouring custard and this is particularly welcoming when the weather is cold and wintry.

Almonds have a natural affinity with most stone fruits, so I have added a little to the sponge to give a subtle almond taste. To create slightly more cake like and moister crust you could substitute 50g of the self-raising flour for 50g of ground almonds…but it is up to you. I have previously experimented with the basic recipe using chopped hazelnuts sprinkled on the top and ground hazelnuts in the base. It was also delicious and there was something quite autumnal with this flavour combination.

The French really embrace the use of plums in their cooking, but we Irish tend to always resort to using apples as our fruit of choice when making tarts, pies and other fruit dishes. This really is a shame, because when baked, the rich fruitiness of plums is released and accentuated.

Other stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines or even greengages (technically a variety of plum) can be used in this recipe, but I favour the use of plums because I find their taste more complex and interesting.

Ingredients:

115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
1 large egg
225g self-raising flour, sifted
1tblsp Amaretto
Topping:
3-4 plums, halved and stoned
6-8 blanched whole almonds
25g Demerara sugar
To glaze:
2tblsp apricot jam
1tblsp water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Grease a shallow baking dish (30cm x 20cm approximately) with a little butter and set aside.
Using a hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat again to fully incorporate.
2. Add the self-raising flour and beat in using a wooden spoon before adding the Amaretto and mixing in.
3. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, smoothing out with the back of a metal spoon if necessary.
4. Press the halved plums, cut side upwards on the dough and place a single blanched almond in the centre cavity of each plum. Sprinkle the Demerara sugar evenly over the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the plums are cooked and the sponge is well risen and golden-brown.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
To finish:
6. Place the apricot jam and water in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling. Remove from the heat and sieve into a small bowl to remove any lumps. Brush the sieved apricot jam mixture over the warm plum tart and serve immediately with some clotted cream or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Serves 4-6.