I suspect the plums mentioned here are actually raisins and no, it’s not Christmas, but as my more unscrupulous journalistic colleagues would say, never let the facts stand in the way of a good story. Our infant orchard is beginning to bear fruit and I collected a basketful of plums.
My mother used to stew plums until they collapsed but I prefer them baked until they’re soft but still holding their shape. Cooked in a compote this way they’re good served warm for dessert or dolloped, chilled, on top of Greek yoghurt for an indulgent fruity breakfast.
Or make it a double whammy and serve the compote with this plum and frangipane tart. The almonds in the frangipane marry beautifully with the plums.
The tart is particularly good made with greengages but any plums will work. You can use frozen plums as I did here (no time to cook them before I went away last week) but make sure they’re well drained.
Plum Frangipane Tart
NB: you can make the pastry using all butter but the white cooking fat will make it crisper.
Ingredients for the pastry:
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g white cooking fat
3-4 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
10-12 ripe plums, halved and stoned
For the frangipane:
200g ground almonds
200g caster sugar
200g butter, softened
2 drops almond essence (optional)
50g apricot conserve
First make the pastry. Put the sieved flour and salt into a bowl or food processor and add the cold butter and cooking fat cut into small pieces.
Whizz, if using a food processor, or pick up small handfuls and rub the fat through the flour with your fingertips. Either way, continue until the fat is evenly blended and the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Add the water a little at a time and either whizz again or stir it through with a fork until the dough clings together and leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to remove any cracks. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer.
Now make the frangipane. Put the sugar and butter in a food processor or bowl and blend until pale and smooth. Don’t skimp this step, it takes longer than you think. Add the ground almonds and mix well. Drop in the eggs, one at a time, beating each time until blended. Add the almond essence, if using (I like the extra almondy taste) and mix well until combined. Scrape into a bowl and keep cool.
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4.
Roll out the pastry thinly on a floured board to a circle big enough to line and overlap the sides of a 10″/25cm flan ring. If you use a smaller tin you will have to increase the cooking time accordingly as the frangipane will be in a thicker layer.
Put the tin on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Gently press the pastry into the ring and prick the base of the pastry lightly with a fork. Chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Trim the edges of the pastry. Spread the frangipane evenly over the base of the tart then arrange the plum halves cut-side up in the frangipane.
Put the tart in the middle of the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the frangipane is a light brown.
Put the apricot conserve with a little water into a saucepan, warm over a low heat, then brush the glaze over the tart.
You can add a couple of star anise to this as you’re baking, but the flavour of the fresh plums is so rich I don’t think they really need further adornment.
600g mixed plums, halved and stoned
2-3 tbspn golden caster sugar, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4.
Put the halved, stoned plums in a single layer in a gratin dish and scatter with the sugar. You don’t need to add extra liquid, they’ll produce their own juice.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the plums have softened but haven’t collapsed. This depends on how ripe the plums are so check after 20 minutes but be prepared for them to take a little longer.