Hey kids! How about some plums? Yeah!
Know what else? I finally sacked up and got a new camera battery charger today. It set me back a cool $40. Yes. A camera charger. FORTY PRECIOUS DOLLARS. That’s like…I don’t even know. How many sandwiches is that? Like at least 6. Bah.
It’s cool though. I am obviously dealing with it well. I’m a survivor.
Plus I got to butter plums today, which I had never done before and thoroughly enjoyed. Look at those little babies! Yeah! All buttered up and tucked in. Waiting to be blanketed with sweet sweet custard and sprinkled with vanilla sugar.
Since this was a Martha recipe, and I’m convinced that lady exists to make me want to gouge my eyes out with spoons (see: Torrone), of course there was an issue. I get to the part about sprinkling the vanilla sugar and it’s all “1/4 cup vanilla sugar (see recipe page 18).” So I saunter over to page 18 to see how to make vanilla sugar and Martha’s all casually “yeah put a sliced vanilla bean in a jar with a tight lid and shake it up and leave it alone…for a week.” MARTHA, seriously? Tell me this shit BEFORE I’ve parbaked the stupid crust and buttered the plums and spooned on the custard and the oven’s all preheated and the tart is all waiting to be sprinkled! [note: now is NOT the time to be like, hey asshat, read the recipe all the way through before you make it, because, do you not know me? you must not. because if you did you would know that is the equivalent of asking me to draw a counterclockwise circle in the air with my right hand and a clockwise circle in the air with my right foot....it is just physically impossible and now you're trying to do it, right?]
So anyway I just kinda sliced open a bean and rubbed the sugar all over it and called it a day. Oh, also, I made a baby one. Look at it! Yeah! It’s so tiny! I couldn’t resist. There would’ve been 2 of them but I ate the rest of the leftover dough. Gross, right? Yeah, I’m not proud of it. But that is where we’re at here. That is the state of my life.
Ok, now I’m ready to talk about the asymmetry. So I lined all the plums up in a circle and they didn’t fit perfectly like I imagined, so I cut another half into quarters and I squeezed them in. Despite the obvious aesthetic issues I may or may not have, I don’t regret it. Plums are so lovely when they bake. More plum, less custard, that’s the way to play this tart.
So, that’s that. Now you do it!
European Plum Tart
from The Martha Stewart Cookbook
makes one 7 1/2″ tart
4 to 5 medium-size firm but ripe plums (mine were from Trader Joe’s and they were called Larry Ann, I kid you not)
2 tbsps unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 7 1/2″ Pate Brisee tart shell (see below), partially baked and cooled
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tbsps Cognac (I used 2 tbsp of kinda cheap Brandy. You know how I feel about liquor in desserts)
1/4 cup Vanilla Sugar (see below tart shell recipe)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Rub each plum with approximately 1 tsp softened butter, and either halve or cut it into eights (I recommend buttering it AFTER you cut it, unless you happen to have a lot of money invested in Band-Aids). Arrange the plums as desired in the tart shell, and bake for about 15 minutes to soften the fruit.
While the tart is baking, prepare the custard. Beat the egg and granulated sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Beat in the cream and Cognac. Spoon the custard around the bottom of the softened plums and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar. Return the tart to the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the custard is puffed and golden. Let cool before serving.
makes one 8- to 10- inch tart
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
Put the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor (or just a bowl). Add the pieces of butter and process for approximately 10 seconds or just until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (or freeze the butter and then grate it in with a cheese grater, or use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter in).
Add ice water, drop by drop, through the feed tube with the machine running, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky; do not process more than 30 seconds. Test the dough at this point by squeezing a small amount together. If it’s crumbly, add a bit more water.
Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Grasping the ends of the plastic wrap with your hands (as opposed to WHAT, Martha?), press the dough into a flat circle. Wrap the dough in the plastic and chill for at least an hour.
To parbake…after you’ve rolled your dough out and pressed it into the tart pan, use a fork to poke holes in the tart, line it with aluminum, and weight it with pie weights or some beans. Bake it in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
makes 3 cups (I halved it)
1 vanilla bean
3 cups sugar
Split the vanilla bean and put it in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour in the sugar, put on the lid, and set aside for a week, shaking the jar from time to time.
Replenish the jar with more sugar as you use it up.