Sunday, 16 September 2012

Don't Call Me Sugar-Plum!

Crostata di Pasta Sfoglia con Prugne, Mandorle e Cannella 
Plum, Almond and Cinnamon Tart

It's Sunday, I have 1 roll of puff pastry in the fridge, plums are in season and I bought a pound of them yesterday from a local vendor... and, well, the result is really not very surprising, is it? I just couldn't help myself!

When it comes to fruit tarts and cakes, I definitely like to keep them simple, so that the fruits own, characteristic flavor comes through and does not get overpowered by rich creams, extravagant fillings or whatever. I made this because I was excited about having fresh plums and I wanted to taste fresh plums!

The great thing about plums is the tart and fruity flavor they have when you cook them- only it can tend to get a little too sour and what happens then? Right. People cover them with powdered sugar or cream or something else... and although it may still taste delicious, I find it quite a shame.

Still on my quest to see if I can make tasty desserts, with little or no sugar and using only honey or Stevia, I set about trying to make something fruity, not overpoweringly sweet and just plain delicious. You will have to take my word for it till you try it yourself... but it is possible- and how!

I will tell you how I did it anyway- I started off by boiling a cup of water, adding 2 teaspoons of Stevia, a shot of Cointreau (skip that if you are making this for children), a couple of leaves of mint, a little snip of vanilla and a teaspoon of cinnamon. That's already a lot of flavor in one little cup of water! Bring it to the boil, keep it simmering for 1-2 minutes and then set it to one side to cool- this will be your marinade to flavor the plums and will compliment them perfectly and bring out their best without totally overpowering them.

To remove the stones from the plums, those little devils that love to insist to NOT loosen themselves and then result in you squishing the plums to a pulp, I thought of a simple trick:-) Simply cut the plum into quarters whilst it is still in one piece, then remove each quarter one by one, rather than trying to twist two halves apart. I am not guaranteeing anything- but it worked for me this morning! Give it a go and try your luck!

Drop the plum quarters into that little bit of marinade and stir them well so that each piece gets coated- it isn't much, but it should be just enough liquid to coat them. You don't want to have them too wet anyway, otherwise your pastry will end up being soggy.

Ok- next step! Cut your pastry to whichever size you want to make your pie and then cut extra strips of pasty of the same length to make the borders. Lay the border pieces down, overlapping in each quarter, as high as you want- I added three layers to mine. There is no need to press them together, they will stick whilst baking and will indeed puff up better if you don't squash them down.

Sprinkle the inside of the pastry base with slivers of almond and lay the plum slices decoratively on top- the almonds will give a nice crunchy/chewy texture as well as helping to prevent the juices seeping into the pastry and making it too soggy.

Bake in a hot oven at 300°F for around 20 minutes with a further 2-3 minutes under the broiler to get the pastry nice and golden brown. Depending on your oven, you my find that you need to revolve the tart a couple of times to get it to brown evenly... like I did. Just stay with it and you will manage to make as delicious a little treat as I did- and you are sure to enjoy it as much as I did too!

No comments:

Post a Comment