Glorious fall fruit soldiers, attendant of the inalterably communal market…
Like a middle-aged adult, my fall market bag has steadily gained weight through spring and summer. Bags of Crimson Red potatoes tasting of chestnut, huge celeriac and fennel bulbs, enormous Italian kale and the perkiest, most vivid Dancing Chicken eggs, their color and firmness a result of the chickens foraging for food.
Among the fall bounty are plums… an amazing variety in size, shape and color. I love the education the market brings, and this weekend the teaching was from one of my favorite market vendors on type and growth and taste. Taste before you purchase, he says…
I had more of a rustic, free-form tart in mind when I left market, then one of Joel Robuchon’s recipes caught my eye. Pate brisee with a pastry cream of ground almonds, butter, sugar and egg. I used three types of plums: German/Croatian, Coe’s Golden and little orbed Mirabelle. The Jupiter celebate grapes were so sweet I couldn’t resist adding them.
I also noticed a suggestion in Wayne Gisslen’s Professional Baking that made sense. Gisslen suggested sprinkling a thin layer of cake crumbs, cookie crumbs or bread crumbs in the unbaked shell before adding the filling and fruit. The benefit is absorption of the inevitable juices produced by seasonal fruit such as plums, apricots, cherries or peaches. I had two great slices of cinnamon-raisin bread that I toasted and ground. The cinnamon in the bread and the touch I added in the crust were a nice complement to the plums.
This is simple luxury, a seductive pleasure.
If you have wonderful plums in your local market, I encourage you. Their flavor is brought fully forward in this recipe. Whipped cream would be an intoxicant but, what the hell…
Fresh Plum Tart with Fragrant Almond Cream
(from Simply French, Patricia Wells presents the cuisine of Joel Robuchon) [my editing in brackets]
Scant 1/2 C whole blanched almonds
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
One 9″ partially baked puff pastry, shortbread pastry, or sweet pastry shell
About 20 purple plums (1-3/4 pounds), cut in half, seeded
[If you’re adding small, purple grapes with tiny seeds, they need not be seeded.]
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
[Whipped cream, optional]
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the almond cream: In a food processor, process the almonds to a fine powder. Add the butter and sugar, and process until blended. Add the egg and egg white, and process until blended. [Note: I used an 11″ tart pan; it required a second recipe of almond cream.]
[Sprinkle the layer of crumbs in the partially baked shell at this point.] Pour the almond cream into the prepared shell. Arrange the fruit, cut side up, on top of the cream.
Place the tart in the center of the oven, and bake until the almond cream is golden brown and mounds up around the fruit, about 30 minutes.
Transfer to a rack to cool. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve at room temperature.