A person who loves words is sometimes also an over-thinker. Take this, for example. When I consider the word “tart,” I’m not sure which comes to mind first: “tart” as in a one-crust pie usually baked in a pan with a removable bottom or “tart” as in, “Whooee, boys, those apples got me puckering up” or “tart” as in, “a female who is attractive and has the air of being promiscuous, even if she isn’t.” (Thanks, URBAN DICTIONARY, for that last definition.) Now, part of the problem is the English language. I don’t think “tarte” (tart in French) or “torte” (tart in German) or “tarta” (tart in Spanish) pose quite the same predicament. (Is my verb-subject agreement correct in that last sentence? You decide.) But it might and I just don’t know it. While I speak a little of all three of those languages (I can order a glass of white wine in nearly any tongue), fluent I’m not. This week’s post, all about a plum tart that needed baking one afternoon, had my brain not only trying to figure out a recipe for the darned thing, but also kept me awake (well, perhaps for a moment or two…) considering the word, “tart.”
And if that’s not enough, when we’re playing cards, this little nursery rhyme ditty has to tune up in my head…
The Queen of Hearts She made some tarts, All on a summer's day; The Knave of Hearts He stole those tarts, And took them clean away. The King of Hearts Called for the tarts, And beat the knave full sore; The Knave of Hearts Brought back the tarts, And vowed he'd steal no more.
At some point, the baker-wordsmith must give up the jig and get herself busy in the kitchen. Here are a few photos to get you going before you come up with a tart reply. (See?)
My simple tart could be made with peaches as well as plums — or a combination. Even apples and plums, which are lovely together. Apples, in fact, can be combined with nearly any fruit if you find yourself short. At this moment, however, plums should be in good supply all over the U.S. and Canada and you can then try this. Those of you down under might have to put the cookie-ish plum of a recipe in your back pocket for a little bit.
Plum Crumble Tart
- Soft butter to butter the tart pan
- 9- inch cold unbaked tart shell* (If it's too cold to roll, let it sit at room temperature for 10+ minutes until it rolls easily.)
- 4-5 large black ripe plums, pitted and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar, less if the plums are sweet/more if plums are tart
- Crumble topping – see recipe in note below
- PREPARATION: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange rack at center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a paper towel or your fingers, butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom. Lay tart shell gently in the pan on the baking sheet, pressing the dough against the bottom and up the sides without stretching. Roll a rolling pin over the top to remove excess dough. Patch any holes or thin spots with a bit of the extra dough, using a finger barely dampened with water to glue the dough together. Place in freezer for 10 minutes.
- ADD THE SLICED PLUMS to the tart shell overlapping them just a tiny bit, beginning around the outside and working toward the center in concentric circles. Try to arrange them evenly and attractively. Tuck underneath any small bits that don’t seem to fit. Sprinkle evenly with sugar.
- SPRINKLE PLUMS WITH THE CRUMBLE TOPPING (see recipe below) evenly.
- BAKE the tart for 35-45 minutes, until it’s lightly golden and bubbly. Check at 10-15 minutes and cover with a sheet of aluminum foil if the pastry is becoming too dark before the plums are tender and the crumble is golden.
- COOL ON RACK/SERVE. Unmold, cut, and serve when barely warm or cooled with vanilla or peach ice cream or soft whipped cream. Unlike many tarts, which should be served the day they’re baked if at all possible, this cookie bar-type tart is maybe better the next day. Store wrapped tightly at room temperature for a day or two or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Do not freeze unless you have no other option.
Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Tart Dough) is pronounced: paht-sue-CRAY
If you haven’t baked a lot of pies or tarts, need recipes, or want to check out the background of my plum tart, here are some places to look or visit. Sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words and there are a couple of videos you can watch that provide great help. A tart is a kind of a pie, usually open-faced (no top crust), filled with fruit, chocolate, custard, or pastry cream, and its crust is perhaps more like shortbread — thick, buttery, and a little crumbly rather than flaky like pie crust. Tarts can be sweet or savory, as can pies. To buck you up, tart dough is generally easier to make than pie dough because you can’t hardly overwork it. So if pie dough confounds you, try tart dough!! It’s a lot like the bottom crust of a layered bar cookie and holds no great mysteries except its innate lusciousness.
Facebook Group: BAKE AND TELL–I’m greatly inspired by this group begun by Dorie Greenspan and we have a project of the month to keep us interested. Join up and bake on!!
Ina Garten’s Plum Tart Recipe–my inspiration! But when I later found it in Ina’s second cookbook, BAREFOOT CONTESSA PARTIES (might be my fave Ina book), she says the idea for her tart came from the late great Anna Pump’s THE LOAVES AND FISHES PARTY COOKBOOK. Since I have Anna’s book, I had to look it up and there, of course, it was. Both tarts are lovely, very similar, but use the crumbs for a bottom pastry as well as for a topping. There’s nothing new in the world, especially in the world of cooking.
Watch a video about making tart crust. You can choose your own dough recipe (or the one just below is the recipe used in the video-fyi), but this is about how I do it, technique-wise: Perfect Tart Crust/Baking a Moment
If you liked this plum tart, you might also like my MESA APPLE TART AND OTHER MIRACLES (above.)
Want a book with great info on pies, tarts, and pastry or just more on baking? There are a ton out there. If you have a fine general cookbook, it should have some basic baking and pie and pastry information, if not something on tarts to get your started. Some of the older general cookbooks had much more information than today’s offerings. (My 1972 BETTY CROCKER gave recipe info for pies in 8, 9, and 10-inch sizes.) Moving ahead to books more focused on baking or pies/tarts, here are a few I like:
- Very detailed and excellent. A large, serious baking book with over 300 recipes (measurements are by volume and weight), tons of perfectly researched information, and helpful pages on ingredients and equipment: Rose Levy Berenbaum’s THE PIE AND PASTRY BIBLE
- Fun, contains good GF info, notes on equipment, tasty recipes, great photos (Andrew Scrivani), and lovely stories: Kate McDermott’s ART OF THE PIE: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life.
- An all-purpose, addictive baking book by Dorie Greenspan, BAKING: FROM MY HOME TO YOURS will teach you the basics of tarts and pies, but will also help you find a yummy quick bread recipe for breakfast, a gorgeous cake for the husband’s birthday, and happy cookies for the kids just when you need them most.
- The Fanny Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham is a small, but comprehensive baking book that does include information on pastry, pies, tarts, etc., as well as recipes for nearly anything you want to bake. Now an older book, it’s gotten expensive, but can sometimes be found in thrift or used book stores. Marion minced no words and got the idea across in a way you easily understood. This always-dependable, well-tested volume illustrated with line drawings, is well worth the search, as are any of her books.
LIFE GOES ON:
It’s time for the Labor Day Lift Off in Colorado Springs. I took this on Saturday morning.
Thanks for baking with me and keeping me company in the kitchen.
Is it cooler by you?? Do come, fall.