Italian plums are in season so it’s time to take advantage of their flavor.
Years ago, I read a story about a plum torte recipe created by Marian Burros that was published in the New York Times every September from 1983 until 1989. In 1989 they announced that this was the last time they were going to print the recipe. Readers were not amused!
The paper was flooded with angry letters: “Summer is leaving, fall is coming. That's what your annual recipe is all about. Don't be grumpy about it. We are not!” wrote a reader in Tarrytown, NY.
And so, to date, at this time of the year the New York Times publishes Marian Burros’s recipe to the delight of readers.
I love these seasonal plums and always anticipate their appearance at the farmers markets.
Friends came to dinner last weekend and since plums were at the market, I made a tart. This time I decided to use puff pastry as the crust. It works well and is easy to do—but I made a mistake. Puff pastry is crispy and delicious right out of the oven. Let it get to room temperature, as I did, and it becomes chewy and loses all the flakiness that makes it the part I love so much.
Served right out of the oven with vanilla ice cream it is a delight.
I’m including both the tart recipe and the famous tort for you to try. But take a moment and let me know what you think after you try them.
One more thing and this is the good part—you can use any seasonal fruit in both these recipes. Try apricots, any summer berry, or combination of them, peaches, nectarines, apples, and pears. You can even play with the spices you include such as nutmeg, ginger, cardamom; even herbs like thyme and rosemary will add a subtle flavor. These recipes are very adaptable and that’s what makes them fun.
PLUM TARTServes: 6
12 Italian plums, firm
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 sheet of puff pastry
½ cup heavy cream
ORIGINAL PLUM TORTE
By Marian Burros
From the New York Times
Prep time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Preheat oven to: 350º
¾ to 1 cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
24 halves pitted purple plums
Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs and beat well.
Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9, or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)
To Freeze, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag and seal.
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