Many years ago when I was a budding pastry cook, I had the task to make a pastry cart for lunch and dinner service. One of my favorite preperations were making tarts. From fresh berries with pastry cream, to baked apple tarts. So I recently made a tart combining some old recipes I'd saved and combined some of the tropical flavors of mango, pineapple, banana with coconut and cocoa nibs. Tarts are simply delicious, not so difficult to prepare and yes delicious!
Plums remind me of summers in Switzerland under my sisters tree in her orchard in August. I still have a a week before I go and visit this year. So having a hankering for something reminiscent of her home made desserts. I decided to make my favorite tarte au quetsche, or zwetchgen which is a just dough and fruits baked, but oh so flavorful.
Tarte au Quetsche
250g Flour ( I used whole wheat pastry flour, but all purpose is fine.)
pinch of salt
Rub butter into mix of flour, sugar and salt, until you get a crumbly mix. Add the beaten egg and lightly combine till dough just starts to come together. Chill in refrigerator for about and hour or overnight.
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1tbslp. Sliced almonds
5 tblsp. bread crumbs (I used fresh bread and processed in food processor)
Cut the plums into eighths and place in a bowl. Mix in sugar, (minus 1 tbslp sugar for top of tarte) and cinnamon till combined.
Making the tarte:
Roll out dough and fill either an 8" inch tarte pan or as I did a cast iron pan. Layer the bottom of tarte dough with bread crumbs, which absorb the plum juices when baked. Place the cut plums inside the shell with the skin side down in circular layers till filled. Sprinkle almond slices and sugar over the top of the plums tarte.
Bake in a preheated oven 375 F for 35-40 minutes or untill the plum juices bubble and the dough has a golden color. Cool and sprinkle with confectioners sugar, serve with whipped cream or even Greek yogurt as I did for a lighter, yet creamy texture that feels a bit like creme fraiche.
It's likely when visiting my sister in Switzerland she will whip up some extraordinary traditional desserts, a quark kuchen, Baseler leckerli,Quarkkuchen mit shokolade striesel. One of my top favorites is wähe which is made with seasonal fruits,like apples or plums. It can be a quick breakfast bite, or coffee time dessert, or all day if there is any left...with my nephew and three nieces, oh and my brother in-law around,well you get the picture.
Wähe can be a fruit or savory egg and cream custard filled tarte, it's related to the quiche as well the onion tarte's and other favorites along the Rhine river by the Swiss, German and French borders. Most often I like them with mirabelle that come off the trees at my sisters orchard.
Feeling the last breaths of summer, I decided to make a Wähe, and my sister reminded me about them when she called me the other day.
So I had only a few Italian plums and decided to add in some local concord grapes as well some muscat,and apples sort of an hommage to the vendage or wine harvest...actually I'm just really craving a wähe!
Racheli's wähe teig
Makes 1 8" inch square or round tarte. Enough wäehe for a hungry family!
pinch of salt
3-4 Tbsp. water, (American flour probably needs more water, higher protein and it likes to drink!)
Mix dry ingredients, then rub butter and flour mixture between your hands until you get a sandy mixture.Gradually add in water, gently incorporating to form a ball of dough.(Don't knead, it's not bread!)
Chill in fridge for a half hour to an hour. Roll out to about a 1/4 inch thick and place it into a quiche or tart mold. If you don't have a mold, feel free to place the circle on a flat sheet pan and make a free form tarte, but with caution to fold the edges up so you can place fruit and custard filling to bake.
My filling was a bit unorthodox, I didn't have cream and probably shouldn't either! So here I went for a healthy substitute of yogurt.
2 full Tbsp. Greek yogurt
pinch of salt
11/2 Tbsp of Dr. Oeteker pudding powder, or corn starch. (I just happened to be out of starch and found the pudding mix!)
4 Tbsp of almond meal, for the bottom of the dough
Fruits, apples sliced, grapes, plums halved and whole.
Whisk eggs and pudding or starch, sugar in a bowl, add yogurt and milk, set aside. Poke the bottom of the rolled dough with tines of a fork, cover with almond meal. Fill tarte with fruit in prepared shell in free form or in concentric circles. Cover with custard and bake.Bake for about 45 minutes at 400 for 25minutes lower to 375 F for about 10 minutes till custard is set and tarte shell is golden. Serve at room temperature.
Over the summer while cooking at Abracadabra, Dilara asked me to make tarts for my guest chef menu. Figs and various fruits were married with pistachio sable dough, the end result molded into a lemon tart originally created by Marco Pierre White. More recently, I was asked to make a daily tart on my fall menu. At first I was reluctant. My clientele are primarily a business bunch, in and out for lunch, not much time for a pastry. Perhaps they would go for a pudding, a mousse aux chocolat , berries, or sorbet. But why put even the minimal effort required for a tart when it would likely be eaten by staff rather than customers? Then again, even head chefs don't write all the rules, all to say that I begrudgingly accepted another added task on my already long list of "to dos."
It's been a couple of weeks since baking some basic tarts, most of them scratched out of memories of previous time as a pastry cook. Surprisingly we actually sold a few. Maybe "the tart" is catching on. They are actually so easy to assemble. You can fill them with anything, and finish with a glaze or powder with sugar.
Recently on a trip out to Redhook Brooklyn, I bought a Rosemary shortbread and apricot slice at Baked. It's awesome. The savory and sweet married so well with the sable crumb and streusel topping, I wolfed this pastry in minutes...seconds! So I decided to keep a compilation of tarts, a record for me and for some possible recipes coming up?