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Eat, Drink + Think

Italian Plum Tart

I can never decide what I like better about this Alsatian and southern-German tart: the quetsches (similar to Italian Blue Plums, which are available for a short time in the fall) or the butter crust (called sablé in French and Mürbeteig in German). On a recent trip to France, I learned a trick for making it: if you bake the tart with no sugar over the fruit, you won’t get a soggy crust. Just sprinkle on a small amount of sugar after baking. Italian Blue Plums are only available in the early fall, so I tend to serve this tart at Rosh Hashanah. If you make it at another time of the year, other varieties of plums can be used.

Yield: 8 servings

Crust 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 stick butter 8 tablespoons
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon Salt

Filling 1/3 cup plum jam
1 tablespoon brandy
2 pounds Italian blue plums (or greengage plums in the spring)
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  1. To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter or margarine together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade until crumbled. Then add the egg yolk, and pulse until the dough comes together.

  2. Put the dough in the center of an ungreased 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Dust your fingers with flour, and gently press out the dough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and bake the crust for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 375 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, and let cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

  4. Mix the jam with the brandy in a small bowl, and spread over the bottom of the crust. Pit the plums, and cut them into four pieces each. Starting at the outside, arrange the plums in a circle so that all the pieces overlap, creating concentric circles that wind into the center of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and lemon zest.

  5. Return the tart to the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the plums are juicy. Remove the tart from the oven, sprinkle on the sugar, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from “Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France”).

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