Reasons for Cravings – Plum Tart
I’ve been looking for a reason for my sudden otherwise inexplicable foray into baking so many cakes and pies this season. I had thought it was just the inspiring selections from my always-pushing neighborhood fruit stand guys. These plums were irresistible with their freckles looking like a map of the universe on their glowing purple skin… but that doesn’t really explain it.
As I stand by my counter cutting through my bounty I begin feeling the comfort of the process and the excitement of seeing plums at my favorite moment of ripeness, just before they are fully sweet, still clinging to the last breaths of a tartness that’s more than skin deep. I could have almost just stood there and ate through the bowl of them, but there are ideas of French pastries in my head so I continue slicing.
When I started this blog I never expected to have baking posts at all. I’ve always been more of a savory person. Sweets only ever really interest me when they have an unexpected balance of saltiness or bitterness or chilies and herbs or even rushes of tart. I’m the same way with people really. It’s the ones that continually defy your expectations that make the most interesting friends. Sweets don’t belong in a box. They should never be over done. Never taken for granted. Never commonplace. They should be surprising.
Were these plums really so inspiring? I went out just to buy a tart pan and baking beads just for this project. Could they really need so much when they’re perfect eaten as they are? Why am I baking so much? The question still remains. Surely it’s not just the fruit. With my tart shell baking I turn to the backbone ingredient that seems to be a part of 80% of my dessert recipes – almonds.
Maybe I’m just a good California girl (and I am) or maybe it’s because my mother taught me to keep almond flour in the house at all times, but almonds are an extreme comfort food to me. A dessert is always and instantly more appealing to me when I use almond flour. It’s just that touch of my mom’s special only-at-Christmas cookie in every bite. I wasn’t looking to make the kind of fruit tart with a custard filling and uber glazed fruit topping. I wanted the French pastry, where glistening fruit is being overtaken with that soft almond filling that rises up around it.
My college roommate used to bake chocolate chip cookies every time she was stressed. By the time she was into finals I was so spoiled I wouldn’t even eat them unless they were hot from the oven. She had a perfect recipe and we would joke that she could even adjust it for the weather. I have to imagine she still makes these perfect cookies all the time (though we no longer live close enough for me to enjoy it). She, like me, was never much of one to eat all the cookies – it was merely the process of making them that was so therapeut
ic to her. I rarely eat my creations – and never more than a slice. I force my friends and roommates to finish them for me while I dream about my next recipe.
I don’t think I crave these tarts and cakes because I’m tired or stressed. I think I crave them because I crave the comforting adventure of making them. Standing by my counter slicing plums or mixing brandy and sugar into my almond flour mixture and smelling it’s potential as beautiful as raw talent, that is where I find my comfort. For me it will always be a different recipe, but that is where I come home to. Standing in front of the stove creating something new, that’s where I come to find my balance.
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 teaspoons brandy
- 5-6 plums
- apricot jelly
Preheat oven to 375°F.
I’ll be honest – I just used a ready-made pie crust I had in the freezer. There are lots of good recipes out there to make even better crusts if you want to take the time. Either way pre-bake your crust covered with parchment and baking beads (or dried beans) until pale golden brown. Remove the parchment and beads (carefully – they are hot) and set your crust to the side to await its fillings.
The Good Part
Mix the egg, sugar, butter and 2 teaspoons brandy into your almond flour and pour the filling into crust. Arrange the sliced plums on top. Bake until plums are tender and filling is golden and set, about 40 minutes.
Put some apricot jelly and the rest of the brandy into a tiny sauce pot and heat until melted. Brush the fragrant deliciousness over the tart while still warm and let the whole thing cool. Enjoy!
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