11 September 2011

Plum Frangipane Tart in a Spelt Crust

I've lived in Britain now for two years. Two years! I can hardly explain how quickly it's gone by, how different my life is, or how much I love it here.

I'm still an American, though, and my foray into British food has been slow-coming. First was a world of curries, which I've only just begun to understand (and love passionately). Puddings were even slower to get on my good side. Maybe it's because the word "pudding", to an American, means something different than it does here, where the word is used as a generic term for what I would call dessert. I'll never forget ordering a "chocolate pudding" in the first few days after I moved to England... which came to me as a piece of soggy chocolate cake. This is the traditional, accurate usage of pudding, a steamed or boiled cake, and I still haven't tasted one I like.

I'm so familiar with American baking that British flavours and styles took a lot longer for me to get my head around. I'm proud to say that I've finally scratched the surface with this plum tart! While I have a suspicion that the tart itself might be Italian (or French?) in origin, to me it is a standard British dessert (ahem, pudding).

Oh, success, I love you!

I decided to use a spelt crust instead of a plain crust, for no other reason than that I love spelt. It has a rich, nutty quality that is so flavourful, and I think it adds a nice touch to this tart. Also, this isn't your typical pastry crust method, and is a favourite of mine because it's so easy! The filling is almond-y and rich and beautiful. Yum.

Spelt Crust
adapted from David Lebovitz
90g (6.5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
75g plain/AP flour (just over 1/2 cup)
75g wholegrain spelt flour (just over 1/2 cup)

Frangipane Filling

adapted from Gordon Ramsay
6-8 Victoria plums, stoned and sliced into quarters.
120g unsalted butter (8.5 tablespoons), softened to room temperature
120g ground almonds (4.25 oz)
120g caster sugar (just over .5 US cup)
20g plain flour (1/8 US cup)
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur (DiSaronno)
1 medium free-range egg (if using a large egg, add 5g weight to each ingredient)

Preheat the oven to 210ºC (410ºF)

Combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt in a glass oven-proof bowl (e.g. Pyrex)

Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

Remove from oven and add the flour quickly, stir it fast until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula. Allow to cool a bit before handling.

Pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough for patching any cracks.

Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. I didn't feel the need to use pie weights, and it was just fine. While crust is baking, prepare filling.

Place all filling ingredients together in a bowl (except plums) and blend together using an electric mixer. Stop when mixture is just uniform -- don't overwork it.

Remove tart shell from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes if you've patched anything.

Turn the oven down to 150ºC (300ºF). Let the shell cool before filling.

Spread frangipane mixture into the baked tart shell and smooth with the back of a spatula. Arrange sliced plums on top of the mixture, skin-side up, pressing down gently so that they are embedded in the frangipane. Sprinkle top with granulated or caster sugar.

Bake 30-35 minutes until golden, and the middle is just-set. Cool 10 minutes in the tart ring, then remove ring and slice at will!


  1. I see you are studying biology in scotland, i am doing animal biology in birmingham! hurrah for us science foodies :) This looks like a total winner of a recipe, i made my first plum cake the other day and im definitely converted to baking with the little lovelies now! Gorgeous :)

  2. Yes yay for science and food! :)