Tarte aux Prunes et amandes

I was cooking for the family again. Ingredients for a big pot of bolognese ragù were coming in the morning with my Waitrose delivery so I suggested making a lasagna for us all. There’d be plenty for the lasagna and enough spare to freeze a few portions of the ragù. I always like to make a pudding; this is more for my pleasure even though they enjoy them. For me a proper family meal at the weekend has to include a pudding. It’s rarely a posh ‘dessert’ when it’s just us as they like simple things like fruit crumbles or pies (like the pie I made last week), and I try to keep the sugar content reasonably low so two little boys (3 and nearly 6) aren’t sent to bed with a sugar rush! 

While I was out shopping in the morning and wandering around Wholefoods, which I love because of their great produce but also because I can choose loose fruit and veg and pack them in a paper bags, I was thinking about pudding and wanting to make something a bit different to my usual apple crumble … Then I spied some huge, red organic plums and remembered how when my kids were quite small I’d often make Tarte au Roussillon with plums, apricots or even rhubarb, depending on what was in season. I was quite sure I hadn’t yet put this recipe on the blog … until I got home, plums bought, and checked my own website and found the recipe from 5 years ago, using figs. Well, here it is again – with plums! Hopefully the many new readers who’ve joined me in the past five years will enjoy a new look at this great recipe. 

It was given to me by a friend living in France many years ago. She made it with apricots, which works really well, but it’s too late in the year for apricots. An almond cream (like a soft frangipane) is put into a rich buttery pastry case and fruit laid on top. You eat it cold or cool so it’s great for making ahead. It’s quite a simple recipe but the result is fantastic.

Tarte aux Prunes et Amandes

Pastry

  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g butter
  • 1 dessertspoon caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons water

Filling:

  • 500g plums
  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a little caster and icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C/Fan 160/Gas 4. Grease a 26cm loose-bottomed flan case with butter

First of all make the pastry. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until it all comes together. Gather it into a ball, press out slightly on a floured surface into a disc, wrap in cling film and put aside in a cool place to rest for about 20 minutes. 

My plums were very under-ripe and so I decided to roast them a little first. I cut them in half, removed the stone and lay them cut-side up on a baking tray, sprinkled over a little caster sugar and roasted them in the warming oven (see above) while I made the pastry. It’s hard to say how long to cook them for as it depends on the fruit and its ripeness. I guess I cooked mine for about 20 minutes; you want to see them start to soften and the juice coming out a little. Very ripe fruit can just go straight on to the almond cream topping.  

Roll out the pastry and line the greased flan case. [I did have extra pastry over, as I guessed I might, so you could make a little less – but I stuck with my original measurements rather than do the maths!]. Crumple a piece of greaseproof paper, slightly bigger than the flan case, and then gently lay it on top of the pastry and fill with baking beans. Blind bake the pastry case for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip out the baking beans and discard the greaseproof paper. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes to dry out the base and prevent a soggy bottom to your tarte

Now make your almond cream. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, ground almonds and vanilla and beat well until you have a nice soft thick cream.

  

Spoon the almond cream into the prepared pastry case and gently spread out evenly. 

  

Lay the plums, cut-side down, gently on top of the almond cream. Sprinkle a very little caster sugar over the top of the plums. Put into the preheated oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the filling has risen and turned a nice golden-brown colour.

Leave for about 5 minutes then carefully take out of the flan tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack. Once it was cool I dusted it just a little with some icing sugar (I might have added more if I hadn’t been conscious of that sugar-rush for the boys!).

When it came to pudding time during the meal and the tarte was put on the table, Freddie (nearly 6) declared loudly and with enthusiasm: ‘That’s the best pudding I’ve even seen!’ It was lovely to please him so much … though I have to confess he’s always very excited by puddings!

I think this is a tarte to be served with cream. Perhaps some nice cool runny single cream but in this case I couldn’t resist the Cornish clotted cream I’d seen. And it did go with it rather well! What a gorgeous pudding. The pastry is beautifully light and flaky; the almost cake-like almond filling delicious and the slight tartness of the plums complements it brilliantly. The family loved it. And while for us it was part of a regular family weekend meal, it’s actually posh enough for a dinner party.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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