I have been fiddling with my tart base dough for a few months now and I think I have at last got what I want. I have the good old high end French recipe and the easy to roll Luxembourg one, but then the other day, I got the measurement for the sugar very wrong and could not remove all of it again, so I just carried on. And as happens so often; is turned out to be the best so far!
I’ll let you in on a little secret; I hate blind baking anything. The fussiness of those beans in an empty crust just isn’t me, but I still want a tart with a dry bottom (don’t say anything), so I use all sorts of tricks to get to the desired result. I use top & bottom heat to start the baking, rather than convection, I put the pie on the bottom most shelf in the oven for the entire bake. I start at 200ºC for the first 15 minutes and then I reduce to 180ºC for the rest of the bake and guess what? It works.
Now for this happens to be a plum tart, but there are hundreds of fruit options that will give you a great pie too. In Malaysia, we are not blessed with an excellent variety of ripe fruit, so you’re better off going to the shop with an open mind than with a fixed idea. See what there is and go with what’s ripe. (See Note at the bottom) For this plum tart, you will need really good, ripe plums like these.
The ones Eddie found for me were soft to the point of squishiness. There was no cutting them along the seam (or whatever you call that cheek crack thing), no twisting the two halves apart and prising out the stone. I was left with a handful of pulp and an elbow dripping juice. So in the end I cut two halves off as close to the stone as I could and that worked fine. I ate all the insides around the stone.
That’s another way of saying Plum Tart in Luxembourgish. Well, not exactly, because a quetsch is a quetsch and a plum is another thing, but close enough (am I rambling?).
This recipe actually makes enough dough for one pie with rim and one without. I’ll tell you what to do with the one without in another recipe. I was contemplating reducing the quantity, but the we end up having to use two thirds of an egg, which is just annoying. The rest of the dough will keep in the chiller for a week or happily live in the freezer for a month.
For the Base:
- 250g flour
- 180g butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 20ml water
Sift the flour into a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and drop it into the flour. Using your fingers, squeeze the butter cubes into the flour and rub the whole thing to the texture of rough crumbs. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the sugar. Now break the egg into the mix, add the sugar and stir the whole thing into a soft dough. Lay out a piece of clingfilm and spoon the dough onto it. Cover with another piece of film, flatten to a thick disk and put it into the chiller for an hour.
Butter your pie dish. You want to be using a pie dish with a removable bottom, if you can. Heavily flour a wooden board, unwrap the dough and flour the top of it, then flip it onto the board. Flour the top of the dough generously and start rolling it out. Keep checking that it doesn’t stick to the work surface. If it starts to, flour the top and flip the dough.
Roll the dough out medium thin. It should be much larger than the pie bottom by now. Flour the dough again and place the pie bottom buttered side down on the dough. Cut the dough about 1cm from the rim of the pie base. Remove and keep the extra dough. Flip the dough together with the metal base over and roll it out thinner. The idea is to create a very fine, thin crust. Once this has been accomplished, put the whole board with the dough uncovered into the chiller for at least half an hour.
Gently loosen the edge of the dough around the metal base with a palette knife, or a dinner knife, lift it up and fit it into the pie dish. Make sure the edges of the dough fit tightly into the corner of the dish, press the dough gently into the rim and then cut off the excess. Prick the base with a fork to prevent air bubbles from lifting the base off and put the whole thing into the freezer for an hour. You can make this one (or more) days in advance, but remember to wrap the dish with the dough in clingfilm once it is frozen, otherwise your dough will dry out and crack.
For the Filling:
- 1 kg fresh, ripe plums
- 100ml milk
- 100ml cream
- 1 egg
- 75g caster sugar
Heat your oven to 180ºC and make sure it has been at temperature for at least 15 minutes before you start baking. Wash and dry the plums, cut out the stone and quarter each plum. Arrange the plums neatly in your pie dish and return to the freezer while you make the custard filling. Mix the milk and cream in a jug, whisk the egg into it with a fork and dissolve the sugar as best as you can. You do not want the custard to be foamy, so go easy on the whisking.
Pour the custard over the pie and put it into the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the custard has risen. Allow to cool for an hour before you remove it from the dish. This pie will keep very well in the chiller for 3 days.
This is a base recipe for all sorts of pies and it will work very well with apples, pears, cherries, apricots and peaches, figs, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and my favourite; blueberries. You can even use mangoes. lychees or pineapple. And of course it’s an alternative and much easier recipe to my previous rhubarb tart blog Rhubarb Tart. Rhubarb though is a vegetable, not a fruit.
Depending on what fruit (or vegetable) you are using, you may need to sugar it. A little acidity is fine, because we are adding the sweet custard, but it should not be enormously sour, so if you sugar the fruit, just taste it after a while and if it’s just agreeable with a touch of sourness at the end, you’re good to go. Drain any large amounts of juice that may have collected. If it’s just a couple of tablespoonsful, you can just add the juice to the custard mix.