This post is now archived as it was written before I became a vegan and rebranded my blog. Comments on this post are closed, although it will remain available for viewing. You can now browse my full collection of vegan recipes.
Winter is coming. The heating has gone on, I’ve reluctantly pulled my winter coat out of the back of the wardrobe and it’s getting dark at 5pm. Long gone are the evenings where I can sit outside until 9pm, the warm breezes and the nice man selling ice cream next to the Rhine. But enough of the moaning…
Autumn and Winter are when Switzerland seems to come alive. The autumn markets arrive, the trees turn the most beautiful shades of orange and brown and everyone gets way too excited about Gluhwein (OK, you can never really be too excited about Gluhwein).
There is a time of the year for ice cream and a time of the year for cool ice tea, but this time of the year is for warm, gooey, sweet, fruity, pastry goodness. And this plum and almond tart is it. One of the best things about living in mainland Europe is the constant supply of seasonal produce. Only certain fruits and vegetables are available at certain times of year, but with that comes the freshness and the amazing quality of the ingredients. There is something very special about using foods seasonally and eating them while they are at their best – and this is where these plums come in. I originally used to make this tart with apricots, and I probably will post that recipe in the spring or summer time, but right now, it’s all about the plums.
The pastry is rich and crumbly, and the frangipane filling acts as the perfect support for the plums. When baked the plums become soft and rich, and their fresh juice caramelises the top of the almond filling. The pastry is blind baked first and topped with fruity jam. You can choose whichever jam you prefer – I used mixed berry. The sweetness and intense flavour of the jam really complements the smoothness of the frangipane, but it also serves a purpose as a barrier between the pastry and the frangipane mixture, to ensure the pastry doesn’t get soggy at the bottom. The frangipane is then baked until just set at the top so that the plums have a solid base to sit on. At this point the tart is removed from the oven, the fruit is added, and it’s placed back in the oven to fully cook through.
I kept the decoration on this tart really simple as I wanted the plums to really be the focus. They are sliced into small segments and arranged in an overlapping circle from the outside in, then topped with some toasted almond flakes and a dusting of powdered sugar. This tart is also a no fuss 1 bowl affair, making it the perfect choice if you’re not into making fancy desserts but still want something elegant looking. The pastry can be made either by hand or in a food processor. You could also use store bought pastry if you don’t want to make your own, but I really think making your own is worth it, and not as hard as you might think!
This is the perfect dessert for a cold winter afternoon or evening, with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee and a warm jumper.
Plum and Almond Winter Tart
Approximately 10 Plums cut into wedges
You will need a 23cm, deep fill loose based flan tin for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
1. Make the pastry. In a food processor combine the flour and the butter and mix until you have a fine, sand like consistency. You can also achieve this by hand by rubbing the butter and flour together with your fingers, however I like the food processor as there is no heat from your hands warming up the butter. Mixing on a medium speed, add the egg yolk and the cold water until the pastry just comes together in a ball. Cover the whole ball with cling film, press slightly flat and put into the fridge to chill for a full 20-30 minutes.
2. While the pastry chills, chop the plums into thin wedges. To do this run a knife all the way around the plum inside the natural indent and twist so the two halves separate. Remove the stone and cut the two halves into wedges. I find about 10 plums will cover the top of the tart but it depends how thick you like your slices!
3. Get the pastry out of the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out until your pastry is large enough to cover your flan tin. Fit the pastry over the tin and press it to the edges gently, but don’t chop off the excess pastry at this stage. Cover the pastry with foil or grease proof paper and fill with baking beans. If you do not have baking beans, any dry beans or dry rice will work. Place the pastry case into the oven for 12 minutes.
4. While this is baking, we make the frangipane mixture. In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix together. Stir in the flour and the almond flour until completely combined. Set aside.
5. Take the pastry case out of the oven and remove the liner and baking beans. At this stage trim the excess pastry from the top with a sharp knife so that the pastry is the same height as the case. Smooth the jam onto the base of the pastry. If the jam is too stiff, warm it for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. Spoon the frangipane mixture on top of the jam and fill until there is about 1/4 inch pastry left at the top – this is important to allow room for the mixture to rise. If your flan tin is not that deep, just fill until it is a 1/4 inch from the top. Put in the oven for 12 minutes.
6. Once the mixture has baked for 12 minutes, it will have formed a slight crust and will be able bear the weight of the plum slices. Arrange them from the outside in in a circle pattern until the whole top is covered. Put back in the oven and bake for a further 30-35 minutes until the mixture has set.
7. While the tart is cooling, toast a handful of flaked almonds in a pan until they are lightly golden brown. When the tart is completely cool (this could take an hour or more), remove from the flan tin and place on a serving tray or plate. Throw over the almonds and lightly dust with icing sugar for a nice finish.