Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"This is just to say" : A Plum Tart for the Poet's Daughter

We were short one person on our recent pie night. Our friend was away on his silent retreat, which his wife informed us might have been silent but far from austere. She came alone (unless you count the copy of Mother Angelica’s biography she smuggled into the house, much to the glee of our youngest daughter) and we had a plum tart, remembering William Carlos Williams’s poem. An appropriate dessert for the daughter of a poet, I thought.
The almond butter filling is based on a recipe from Spago Desserts, by Mary Bergin and Judy Gethers. The filling works for just about any fruit, especially stone fruits (cherries, apricots, plums, nectarines) and even non-stoners, like blueberries. (“Dude!”) Make the filling, spread it into a blind baked tart shell, top with the fruit and bake.
If you can’t find almond flour (or if it’s too pricey), grind 4 ounces of slivered almonds with the sugar in a food processor until the almonds are as finely ground as you can make them and proceed with the recipe.

Plum Tart with Brown Butter and Almond Filling      
For one 9” tart
You will need one recipe pate sablee, which is available on a prior post.

1 quart plums (you will need about 8 plums or so, depending on their size)
1 cup almond flour (4 ounces)
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract                                                   
¼ pound (one stick) unsalted butter

1. Roll out the pate sablee dough and fit it into a 9” tart pan, trimming off excess dough at the edge of the pan. Lightly prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork. Refrigerate or freeze the tart shell for at least 20 minutes before baking.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator or freezer. Place the pan on a baking pan. Fit the tart shell with a piece of aluminum foil and fill the foil with pie weights (dry beans and/or rice work just as well and they can be reused). Place the baking pan with the tart shell into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully remove the aluminum foil and the pie weights; return the tart shell to the oven for an additional 5 to 7 minutes of baking. Remove the partially baked tart shell from the oven and set it aside to cool.

3. While the tart shell is cooling, prepare the fruit. Cut the plums lengthwise, exposing the pit. Remove the pits, discard them, and set the halved plums aside. Prepare the tart filling.  Begin by browning the butter. Cut the butter into pieces. Place the butter into a sauté pan and place the pan over medium heat. As the butter melts, a fine filigree of foam will rise to the surface and then disappear. Stir occasionally as the butter continues cooking. A foam of small white bubbles will appear on the surface of the melted butter. This is about the time the butter will begin to brown. Stir and watch; when the butter turns a nutty brown color, remove it from the heat and let it cool.

4. Place the almond flour, sugar, and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir together. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the brown butter and stir until the butter is incorporated into the mix. Spread the filling into the tart shell. Arrange the plum halves, cut side up around the tart shell, pressing them gently into the filling. When the tart is filled, return the tart to the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the filling has set and has turned a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Dust the tart lightly with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

             This is just to say we have eaten the plum tart. Sorry about the paraphrase, WCW.


  1. I do believe I missed something special, but since I was silent I could not complain at the time

  2. I never understood why someone would steal plums, but plum tart is another story. . .