1 hour 15 minutes
"The first time I made this tart – a version with apricots from one of my favourite dessert blogs, Pastry Studio - I wasn’t really sure how it would turn out. I’d already made three different apricot desserts over the space of a fortnight, and figured it wouldn’t hurt to try a fourth. It turned out to be one of the best things that has ever emerged from my oven. Buttery, crunchy pastry; a lightly set cream filling with the unmistakable hit of almonds; gooey, jammy, sweet-tart fruit that melts lusciously into the cream…this is exactly the sort of dessert you should be serving up this summer. It looks like one of those very elaborate confections you might pick up in a Parisian patisserie, but involves a fraction of the effort – no faffing around rubbing butter into flour to make pastry, or whisking endlessly to create pastry cream. It involves very little hands-on time, but will elicit delight from your guests."
I’ve made this a few times now, but this plum version is particularly spectacular. I’ve tweaked the original recipe a little – using spelt flour for a deliciously nutty biscuit crust, adding more crème fraiche, and scattering over some flaked almonds and demerara sugar for crunch as the tart bakes. This plum version is the best so far, I think, and a beautiful way to showcase the early plums of the season – fruit and veg is ripening about three weeks ahead of schedule here in the UK, due to the early hot summer. When I found these gorgeous little plums in the market the other day, I knew this would be the best way to use them. Plums and almonds have a natural affinity; the almost marzipan-esque taste of the almond filling offsets the tart fruit perfectly.
The pastry case is made in an unconventional way – adding melted butter to flour and mixing to form a dough, instead of rubbing the butter in as is traditional – so much easier. You end up with something rather like a giant biscuit, buttery and crunchy and just waiting to be filled with luscious cream and stone fruit. I actually prefer it to traditional pastry – it stays crisp and crunchy, and scattering almonds across the bottom before adding the filling ensures there’s no soggy bottom. I like to grind fresh almonds for this, as you end up with a much better texture and flavour, but you can of course use packaged ground almonds to save time.
By all means, adapt this to suit your tastes – you could try hazelnuts instead of the almonds, if you like, or play around with the fruit – I think any stone fruit would work well, as would raspberries or gooseberries. Because you have cream and pastry already baked into one beautiful unit, you don’t really need ice cream or cream with this, but I do think a stone fruit version would be lovely served with a dollop of extra crème fraiche and some fresh summer berries. Enjoy, while you can, the last of summer’s abundant bounty – bake it into this glorious tart and feast away.
For the pastry:
For the filling:
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar.
Add the extracts, salt and flour and mix until you get a soft dough.
Grease an 8 or 9 inch loose-bottomed tart tin, then press the dough into the base and sides of the tin with the back of a spoon to form an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.
In a small food processor, blitz the almonds to fine crumbs. Scatter across the base of the tart tin. In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraiche, egg, extracts, honey and cornflour. Pour into the pastry case.
Halve and stone the plums (quarter them if they’re large) then arrange over the filling.
Scatter with the flaked almonds and then with the demerara sugar, then bake for 45-50 minutes, until the filling has set and is starting to turn golden. Remove and leave to cool before serving.