For years I've been baking a peach tart recipe that my mother gave me. The crust is scented with almond extract and enriched with oil rather than butter, which makes it crumblier and a little snappier. The best part is that you don't have to roll out the dough, you just press it into a tart pan -- which means it's a great dessert for making with your kids and for when you're stranded in a rented house without your rolling pin.
After the tart pan is lined with dough, you fill it with sliced peaches and shower the fruit with a pebbly blend of sugar, butter and flour. The sugar helps the fruit juice and the butter and flour make a nice thick sauce of that juice.
I was reminded of this recipe when one of food52's members, Erika Kerekes, wrote about it at Examiner.com. In her version, she made the crust savory and topped it with beet greens and cheese. And she inspired to make my own changes. I swapped out the peaches for plums and change the oil in the crust to half olive oil, half canola. The olive oil adds fragrance, and the canola keeps the dough flaky. Small Italian plums are just coming into season, so now is the moment to make this -- enjoy.
20 small Italian plums (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), halved and pitted (if your plums are large, quarter them)
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, milk and almond extract. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not overwork it.
2. Use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable base, pushing it up the sides to the edge of the pan. This will be easy if you pat firmly and confidently, but not if you curl your fingertips into the dough. It should be about 1/8-inch thick all around; trim and discard excess dough.
3. In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablesoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter. Using your fingertips, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, with a mixture of fine granules and tiny pebbles.
4. Arrange the plums in concentric circles, cut-side-up on the pastry, leaning against each other like fallen dominos; they should fit snugly. Sprinkle the pebbly butter mixture over top (it will seem like a lot). Bake for 35 to 45 mimutes, until shiny, thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is a nut brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with large dollops of whipped cream.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).