Sunday, July 13, 2008

Plum Lucky

When we moved here over 22 years ago, I wasn't so sure that it had been a good idea. I had been a full time office manager of a doctor's office, my kids were used to being in school or pre-school or at day camp, and Sweetie worked less than 10 minutes from home. Now I found myself out in the country, no longer able to just walk to town, with a houseful of boxes and no routines for any of us. It took a while for the kids to get used to me being at home all the time and it took me a lot longer.

On the plus side, my son had friends his own age just down the road and my daughter soon made friends with a girl on the other side of the road. Our home was fairly recently built, compared to the old one which had been built after the 1906 earthquake. Best of all there was lots of room for a garden and we had lots of fruit trees and walnut trees. Instead of walking to town, I walked down my drive to the garden and fruit trees. All in all, we were pretty lucky to end up here is such a beautiful place!

When we had lived in Berkeley we were near a park and, as they are wont to do, the blackberries took over parts of the park. We all enjoyed the blackberries, but my son really loved them. On our new property we found that we had early berries and then true blackberries, so that part was familiar and a delight and my son could pick blackberries to his hearts content.

One of the fruit trees was a Santa Rosa plum. It has red skin and sweet, juicy red flesh. When the plum is ripe the skin has a sort of bluish haze over the dark red skin. The skin is just a bit tart.

That tree is still bearing. Last year I missed when the fruit ripened (blame the new job) and so only had the last of the fruit. This year I've kept an eye out. It has been really warm, so all the fruit ripened almost at once. I feel lucky to have such delicious fruit just for the picking. So far I've made two things from the plums. There are still some to play with, so it's likely that the next few posts will be plummy.

The first recipe is a very simple one. All it takes is puff pastry, jam, walnuts and plums, a little butter and sugar, plus a hot oven.

I didn't keep close enough watch as it baked (I was typing up the got distracted), so the pastry was pretty brown, although not burnt. The sweetness of the plum flesh and the tartness of the plum skin made a great combination with the buttery pastry. The crunch of the walnuts offset the softness of all the fruit. Sweetie isn't fond of plums, but he ate two helping of this creation.

The recipe is based on one in Mitchell Davis's book Kitchen Sense.

Summer Plum Tart

You can make this with pie dough, tart dough or puff pastry. I chose puff pastry for ease. Variations for using the other doughs are given at the end of the recipe.

I sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
¼ cup jam (I used raspberry, but apricot would be good and so would marmalade- one that is just a bit tart is good.)
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
About 8 small to medium ripe red plums, washed (this would be good with almost any variety of plum)
½ stick butter melted
2 tablespoons sugar (I also used a teaspoon of crystal sugar)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Have a large sheet pan ready, lined with parchment or silicone mat.

Roll the thawed puff pastry out on a lightly flour surface to a rectangle about 10 by 8 inches or so, making the pastry ¼ inch thick. Transfer the rectangle to the prepared pan. If you want it to be fancy, trim the edges with a sharp knife to make them straight, being careful not to cut the silicone mat or parchment paper.

Spread the jam over the rectangle, leaving about an inch all around the edges with no jam. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the jam.

Slice each plum into eight slices. Leave the skin on for a nice sweet-tart taste. Arrange the plum slices on top of the jam area, completely covering the jam.

Brush the top of the fruit lightly with the melted butter , using a pastry brush, then sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 -25 minutes, turning the sheet around half way through the baking. Watch to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least five minutes. Be careful of the jam because it gets very hot.

Use a wide spatula to loosen the pastry, then carefully transfer to a cutting board or serving platter.

Cut into rectangles to serve. Serves 6-8 people. Leftovers can be kept, tightly wrapped, for a few days, but you may want to warm the tart briefly in a hot oven to crisp the puff pastry a bit.

Variations: If you are using pie dough, make enough dough for one crust, roll it in a 13 inch circle and place it on a 12 inch pizza pan, letting the dough hang over the sides. Spread the jam in an 11 inch circle, sprinkle on the walnuts, arrange the plum slices starting at the outer edge of jam, moving into the center, covering the jam completely. Fold in the dough beyond the jam, making folds. Moisten behind the folds with a little water and press to seal. Brush the butter over the fruit and folds of dough and sprinkle the sugar over all. Bake at 375 degrees F instead of 425 degrees F. until dough is golden and fruit is bubbly.

If using tart dough, line a tart pan with it, spread the jam over the bottom and follow the directions for the puff pastry version, watching to make sure that the tart pastry doesn't burn.


  1. Yum-there was a plum tart in the back of Food and Wine magazine that I was just reading tonight. It looked fabulous, and then I come here and that looks fabulous. I think I see a plum tart in my future.

  2. I plum love it!
    I think it sounds divine to walk to the garden and pick fruit!

  3. A park taken over by blackberries? I've got to go there! And your plum dessert looks heavenly. We're just now getting some truly lip-smacking good plums, so I've got to save this recipe.

  4. I'm jealous. I would love an abundance of fruit trees and berries. Although I am happy that I do have room to garden.

    Your tart sounds wonderful, and makes me want to run out and buy some plums!

  5. Elle, what a fresh, delicious tart. I love plums but have never used them in baked goods - I think it's about time!

  6. Yum! Dry some & use them in fruit-mince, or make jam, or freeze them - don't let any go to waste!

    That's one of the things we miss: fruit trees. Sigh.

  7. Peabody, we couldn't stop eating's that good.

    Tanna,except for all the foxtails taht get stuck in my socks, it is really nice to have that option.

    Susan, not so sure that being taken over by blackberries is great, but it happens often in N. CA.

    Deborah, only thing is I feel guilty if I can't find time to use all that fruit. The tart is a good use for sure.

    Patricia, Yes, plums are great for baking with...sweet and tart at the same time.

    Davimack, yes, but see answer to Deborah's comment...seems like time just flies by. I'm at least freezing some for later use. Jam would be wonderful. Wish I could send y'all some plums.

  8. We'd take you up on that ... but they'd be unfortunate by the time they got here. ;)

    Glad you're enjoying them!