This past weekend we got the annual phone call! My mom: to report that the plums growing in her garden were ready to be picked, and she advised me to do it soon because the birds and raccoons were already after them. I told her we would come the following day.
The next morning we found plenty of beautiful plums still left on the trees. My girls had such a good time picking their own fruit and in today’s food world, I’m reminded of how important it is for kids to see where food comes from and what “picked ripe” really means.
Friends were coming for dinner last night, and having these little jewels on hand, I decided a tart was in order. I was in the mood to try a Pflaumenkuchen but the recipe I was considering had nothing but pastry dough, bread crumbs, cinnamon, sugar and plums. Big surprise, but I had something with cheese in mind. Our days in Munich were filled with Kaffeezeit served with Kuchens containing Quark (a wonderful cheese which isn’t so easy to find around here). So since there was no Quark to be found, I bought some whole milk ricotta to fill the void.
And then one thing led to another, and I wasn’t in the mood for cinnamon. I had a couple of Mexican vanilla beans that needed to be used, and decided the tart would be their fate. Then, finally, after chopping so many cute little plums, I found that I would need still more fruit to fill the tart. With Palisade freestone peaches (read all about these peaches and my family’s favorite cobbler recipe) making their debut this week and having plenty on hand, I knew they would finish the job.
I have to say, the crust (from The New German Cookbook) was quite rustic. It was fairly dense and definitely sturdy with a nice buttery flavor. But the next time I make this, I think I’ll choose my standard pastry dough because I like my pastry lighter and flakier, but our guests seemed happy enough (empty plates). The combination of vanilla bean with stone fruits and ricotta was heavenly and just what I hoped for — not too sweet and incredibly fragrant.
Welcome stone fruits! We are glad you are here.
Red Plum & Peach Tart
by Stephanie Kunstle, with Mürbteig from The New German Cookbook
Ingredients for Mürbteig pastry dough:
- 2 and 1/2 c sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 10 and 2/3 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 extra-large eggs
Preparation for Mürbteig pastry:
- In a food processor, combine dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse into coarse meal. Add eggs and pulse until the dough is soft and sticks together when pinched. Wrap in wax paper and let rest for 30 minutes. Or . . .
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Scatter the bits of butter over the surface, and using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Break the eggs into the bowl and fork briskly, mashing any still dry areas into the moistened ones to form a smooth soft pastry.
- Wrap the pastry in wax paper and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes — this makes it easier to handle.
Ingredients for tart filling:
- 2 large handfuls of small red plums or about 5-6 larger market variety (sliced, skins on)
- 3 peaches (cubed, skins removed)
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans
- 1/3 — 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. corn starch
- powdered sugar for dusting
Preparation of tart:
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Butter a 9 inch tart pan with a removeable ring/sides and place on a baking sheet. On a well floured surface with a well floured rolling pin, roll out the Mürbteig pastry to about 1/8 inch thickness. Carefully roll it over the pin, and lay gently over the tart pan. (I found this dough to break very easily, but also patches very easily, so don’t be alarmed if it looks like it’s all falling apart — patch it up!).
- Scatter bits of ricotta across the base of the tart.
- In a bowl, combine the plums, peaches, sugar (depending on sweetness/tartness of the fruit), and vanilla seeds, and corn starch, mixing well to coat the fruit with the sugar and vanilla.
- Cover the ricotta base evenly with the fruit mixture.
- Bake for 40 minutes to an hour (this will depend greatly on your altitude . . . the higher you are, the longer the baking time) until the crust is golden and the tart filling is just beginning to bubble.
- Let cool well before removing the tart ring, and serve just warm or at room temperature with a nice dusting of powdered sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you wish.