I know that they say almost doesn't count (in fact, it was oh so eloquently documented in this song by Brandy from 1999. Classic.) but, for the record. Between plums that were thisclose to rotting (although when you buy them 3 for $1.00 off a street vendor what do you expect) and a pastry dough that was not cooperative in any sense of the word...this is the tart that almost wasn't.
Made even more odd by the fact that, by all outward appearances, it was cosmically approved.
Given the proverbial karmic go-ahead.
All systems are go.
And all that jazz.
You see, on Friday I decided to actually choose what I was going to make for lab meeting the next Wednesday before Tuesday night when generally I turn into a lunatic trying to piece together some kind of baked good with what I have on hand, which is not quite as easy as it sounds given that I seem to be chronically out of brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, and chocolate chips no matter how many late-night grocery store runs I go on.
So I flipped through a baking cookbook that I rarely ever use, closed my eyes, pointed and landed on this here tart. One glance at the picture in the book and my stomach grumbled YES.
Done and done. Onto the grocery list the ingredients went.
Then on Tuesday I go into work and my coworker who is moving back to France permanently at the end of this week asked if I would make something special for her last lab meeting.
To be honest, my heart sank a little bit at this point as the neurotic menu planner in me screamed THE TART!!! TTHHHHHEEEE TTAAAAARRRRTTTT!!!!! But I swallowed my psychoses and said, of course! Anything! What would you like?
And she said (in her adorable French accent that you just can't possibly be mad at), Well I do like cupcakes. And brownies. But what I really love is a fruit tart.
See what I mean. Now if that isn't kismet, I don't know what is.
And yet, when Tuesday night came around you could still find me cursing like a sailor and pacing around my kitchen, more pate sucree in my hair than in my tart pan and plum guts all over my counter as I tried to salvage the non-decomposing parts. So much for best-laid plans.
In the end, though, none of it really matters because with enough patchwork and not a single ounce of finesse, the pastry crust went into its pan. There were just enough plum slices to get by without seeming stingy. And the tart came out of the oven, smelling like a dream and tasting like a fairy tale.
The almond cream filling was light and refreshing, a cross between cake and custard in texture, and just sweet enough to compliment the almost-tartness of the plums, without being overly so. The crust tasted like all things good in this world (i.e. butter). And eating it released so many endorphins that I probably couldn't remember the pain and anguish that went into making it even if I tried.
Yes, it almost drove me to tears. And almost had me committing myself to a mental institution.
But like I said before.
Almost doesn't count.
Plum Almond Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart, adapted from The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook
- 1/2-3/4 recipe Pate Sucree, chilled (recipe to follow)
- 1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup apricot jam, strained
- 1 1/4 lb ripe plums, halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 1-2 tbsp sugar, for sprinkling
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a 12-inch round. Fit the dough in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the dough so that it is even with the tart rim. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Set an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the sugar and salt until finely ground. Add the butter and process until blended. Add the eggs, one a time, and pulse until combined, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the almond extract. Add the flour and pulse until well combined.
- Spread the tart shell with 1/4 cup of the apricot jam using either an offset spatula or a spoon. Spread with the almond cream that you just made. Arrange the plum wedges, side by side, rounded sides down, on top of the cream and gently push down to really stick them in. Place the tart on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle all over with the 1-2 tbsp of sugar.
- Bake, rotating the baking sheet 2/3 of the way through the baking time, until the crust is cooked through and golden brown - 40-45 minutes. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack.
- While the tart is still warm, brush the top of the tart with the remaining apricot jam. If it is too thick, then heat it in a small saucepan until liquidy. Allow the tart to cool completely.
Makes enough for 1 double-crust or two single-crust 9-inch pies (I find this to be debatable...probably 1 1/2 9-inch pies)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- In a bowl, whisk the flour to aerate it. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl halfway through. Add the egg and yolk, and mix to combine. Add the flour and beat until it has been absorbed.
- Scoop about half of the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into a flattened disk and wrap in the plastic. Repeat with remaining half. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
NOTE - I found this pastry dough to be VERY hard to work with and have a feeling that it was a bit too wet. Here are some other options that I haven't tried, but I trust the sources. And if you have any favorite pate sucree recipes, please leave them in the comments!
Flour Bakery's Recipe