Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rustic Tart of Local Plums

I admit to being somewhat beguiled by the word "rustic." I first saw it relating to edibles in a little bistro/pub in Twisp, Washington. "Rustic vegetable tart with cornmeal crust," the menu said.

The word was used to justify having just gathered the pastry up around the filling, rather than rolling it out and putting it in a pan. Well, I'm all for labor saving, and if calling something rustic gives me carte blanche to do so, I say yea!

In fact, the French have legitimized the whole process by calling these casual pies "galettes." And that's fine with me, too.

I can't remember where I found this recipe, but I've significantly altered it. The original called for sliced almonds to be stirred into the filling, Amaretto cookie crumbs (ridiculously expensive) to be scattered underneath the plums, and the pastry to be brushed with heavy cream and sprinkled with coarse brown sugar before baking. None of that, however, is necessary to produce a superb, memorable and delicious plum tart.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
5 to 6 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup sugar (or less)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2-1/2 pounds (about 8 large) not-too-ripe-or-juicy plums or pluots, pitted and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon lemon juice


1 egg, beaten

In food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse briefly just until coarse crumbs form. Add cold water and process in pulses until a loose ball of pastry forms. Add more water very gradually if necessary; the less you process the pastry, the flakier it will be. Gather pastry into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In large bowl, mix sugar, flour and nutmeg. Slice plums into a colander set over a plate. You don't want massively juicy plums for this recipe. Save the juicy ones to eat while standing over the kitchen sink!

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured board, roll out pastry to a 14-inch round. Gently fold pastry round into quarters and transfer to a baking sheet (with Silpat liner) and unfold the round. Brush the beaten egg in a circle in the center of the round, leaving about a 2-inch egg-free border.

Quickly stir plums into flour mixture, and add lemon juice. Pile plums quickly onto the center of the pastry, in the egged area (the egg seals the pastry and keeps the plum juices from softening the crust), and bring the sides of the pastry up around them.

Bake in middle of oven for 25 minutes, then check. If pastry is getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes. Cool. Slice into 8 pieces and serve with creme fraiche, ice cream, or whipped cream.

Serves 8


  1. Sounds wonderful! Have you done anything with rhubarb? It would be in honor of your Dad - you could call it Dad's Dandy! I think of him every time I see rhubarb!!

  2. I've done some rhubarb stuff on the blog earlier this spring. Rhubarb gets overpowered by all the summer fruits; I tend to treat it as seasonal. But it freezes wonderfully! I think of my Dad all the time ... rhubarb, the wonderful butternut squashes he grew ... raspberries (his were second to none) ... and also the vast amount of knowledge that I can't access anymore. Plus, I just miss him.