Friday, September 11, 2009
Plum Custard Tart
There are some dishes you want to make because they're just so pretty. I saw this plum tart from Saveur magazine on the lovely blog Orangette a few years ago, and was drawn in by the jewel-dark baked plums peeking out of the smooth custard. I'm generally of the opinion that it's hard to improve upon a fresh, ripe plum, but I followed the recipe and threw them in the tart. The baked fruit was lovely, turning richer and sweeter in the oven. But the custard? Not so much. There was only a shallow layer, and it was dense and rubbery, overwhelming the tender delicacy of the fruit. We finished it (I mean, it still had fruit and cream and sugar), but I didn't mark it down as a recipe I'd be making again.
Recently plums reappeared in the farmer's markets here in the Northwest. I was combing through the internet, looking for things to do with them (there's only so much jam I can make), and came across that tempting picture again. So pretty. So I decided to give it an overhaul, revamping the recipe so that it could deliver on the promise of its luscious picture.
I stuck with the same plums, dusky blue-black Italian Prune Plums. They're nice to eat raw, but they're especially delicious baked. And then I turned to the troublesome custard. I increased the amount, so that the plums would have an ample custardy cushion. I cut out one of the eggs and halved the amount of flour, to give it a lighter texture, and added vanilla for a bit more flavor. The result was lovely. I brought it to my friends with a week-old baby, and they requested the recipe immediately. Any time a new parent would rather spend time baking than sleeping, you know it's good recipe.
Plum Custard Tart
inspired by Saveur, via Orangette, but adapted heavily
makes a single 12" tart
1 recipe tart crust (I halved this recipe, which makes two crusts), chilled
~ 1 1/2 lb Italian Prune Plums (the exact amount will vary, depending on their size and shape)
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, placing a rack in the upper third.
Remove the pastry crust from the refrigerator, and allow to soften at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Roll it out into a round, and press it into a tart pan. Trim off the edges, prick with a fork a few times, and place back in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
Cut the plums in half lengthwise, and remove the stones . Whisk together the flour and sugar in a medium bowl, and then add a bit of half and half, whisking until it's a well-combined sludge. Add the remaining half and half, eggs, and vanilla, whisking until just combined.
Remove your chilled tart crust from the refrigerator. Place the plums in the crust, cut side down, in a single layer. They'll shrink a bit when baking, so pack them in snugly. Give the custard another whisk to re-mix, and pour gently over your plums. They may float a bit. Place in the oven.
Bake until the plums are soft, and the custard no longer jiggles in the center and is just beginning to brown, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.