Cooking School’s Rustic Plum Pie Recipe is Fall’s Favorite
Crazy plum for Italian purple plums
They are a rare find in local supermarkets, and the season is short – only a few weeks. As summer rolls into fall, be on the lookout for oblong-shaped dark purple plums with smoky skin. If you see them, take a few.
These European delicacies are Italian purple plums, also known as prune plums. They have lead roles in French clafouti and plum tart, desserts that are popping up in the eastern provinces of Alsace-Lorraine along the German border. They are also plums steeped in German culinary culture. Picking these dark night plums, or Zwetschgen, is a late summer ritual for making German plum cake.
What’s so special about these ephemeral, hard-to-find plums? Their vibrant yellow ashlar flesh is less juicy than other plums and cooked in an intense sweet and tangy flavor. Retaining their shape during cooking, the purple skin is pressed against the flesh which transforms into a vibrant fuchsia. With a warm and inviting aroma, all the senses are awakened.
The most alluring way to showcase these culinary gems is in a pie. Baked in a scalloped pie pan, with a perfectly waffled pie shell, plum pie is pretty, but a bit formal and time-consuming. Why not just fold the dough around the fruit to create an informal wrapper? This French countryside shortcut works well with almost any fruit – apples, blackberries, apricots, peaches, and plums.
If there are no Italian purple plums, any variety of plum will work. They should be firm, but not hard or overripe and mushy. Black plums are a good choice with a slightly sweet taste and retain their texture when cooked. Make sure to taste them to adjust the acidity or sweetness. To spice up the tart, flavor the plums with kirsch.
Rustic Plum Tart
- 1 Â½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Â½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted unsalted butter
- 6-8 tablespoons of ice water
In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and mix with the flour mixture. Gradually add the ice water and pulse until small, moist balls of dough form. Place on a floured surface and shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. When the dough is almost cool, prepare the plums.
- 1 Â½ pound Italian purple plums, black plums or other varieties, halved and pitted. Cut each half into Â¼ inch slices.
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of kirsch, brandy or brandy
- Zest of 1 lemon
In a bowl, combine the plum slices with the sugar, lemon zest and kirsch. Put aside.
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- Mix the sugar and flour together in a bowl.
Assemble the pie and bake
Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a Â¼ inch thick oval shape. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, flat baking sheet. Spread the flour and sugar mixture evenly in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border uncovered. Arrange the plum slices in concentric circles over the flour and sugar mixture. Fold the edge of the pastry over the plums, folding it firmly with your fingers. Seal all openings on the sides. Refrigerate pie 5 minutes or more to firm the dough.
Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 40-50 minutes until the dough is golden and the juices thicken. When final baking, place a sheet of aluminum foil lightly on the pie if it browns too much.
Let the pie rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Slide it delicately onto a dish, removing any juice from the pan with a spatula.