One thing I really want to get good at is pastry making. The smell of fresh croissants, pain au chocolat and Danish pastries is one of my favourites along with fresh basil. The Danish call Danish pastries Viennese pastries! I wonder what the Viennese call pastries – maybe just “pastries”! In Florence, after nights sharing aperitivo and spritz with friends, we would seek out the “secret bakeries” with our noses following the bakery smells down cobbledy streets and around corners until we found them and bought pastries fresh from the oven at 2am. Mmm! However, Italian pastry is gently flavoured with lemon rind which I’m not a massive fan of. I prefer French pastry. I got Michel Roux’s pastry book (as a prize for my team “Gussie Fink Nottle” winning a quiz at Blackwells in Oxford – seriously pleased with ourselves) and made the apple tart with pate brisee. I have altered the recipe and made a plum tart.
What you need:
250g wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 dessert spoon soft light brown sugar
3 dessert spoons milk
5 large plums
1. Start making the pastry by combining the flour, butter, salt, sugar and egg on a clean work surface. Use you fingers to gently draw the ingredients together.
2. Once the mixture is quite combined, add the milk and blend it in with your fingers.
3. Work the mixture by kneading it a few times.
4. Mould the pastry into a ball, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge until you need to use it.
5. Slice the plums in half, remove the stones, place them on a chopping board flat side down and slice them into thin slices.
6. Place the small round slices from the ends of the plums in a pan with 100ml water and a touch of brown sugar. Gently start heating until the water simmers and softens the fruit. Once the fruit starts breaking up mash it lightly with a fork to make a compote.
7. Turn the heat off and allow this to cool while the oven heats to 180C.
8. Take the pastry out of the fridge and spread it evenly in a greased quiche dish or even a cake tin. I like to mould the pastry so that it has high sides which create a nice wall around the fruit.
9. Spread the cooled plum compote on the surface of the pastry and lay the plum slices in circles working their way to the middle.
10. Place the tart in the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes until the pastry is lightly browned.
p.s. I took this plum tart to a Catalan evening with Barca vs Manchester United (I’m not into football but I love seeing how affectionate the Spanish footballers are with each other and watching the reactions of the Catalans watching the game. There was lots of shouting, genuine “ahs” you’d think someone had dropped a piano on their feet, “vengas” (“Venga Messi”, “Venga Pedro”, “Venga Xavi”, “Venga venga”), shirt wringing and then pure elation springing around the house hugging each other with each “beautiful” goal) (oh, that was a big parenthesis…and now this is another!) and received two of the best foody compliments I’ve ever had. 1. A guy had just bought an i-pad, took it out of its packaging and started showing it off to us, then spotted the tart and said “Eff the i-pad, I can’t take my eyes off that tart!”. 2. Another guy thought it was a fake display tart (like fake flowers and fake fruit on display in old fashioned homes that probably have doilies and net curtains too) because it was so perfect looking!!! He was thrilled to find that we could, in fact, eat it! Toot toot!!