Sadly, plum season’s pretty much over but this is such a lovely tart to have in your pudding armoury – very simple but very good – it’s better posted late than never. I made the jam for this in the final days of summer (sigh) with fruit from a friend’s Scottish orchard. The plums were abundant – we spent a hot afternoon filling bags and not even putting a dent in the fruit that seemed to be left on the tree.
The first batch of jam was a disappointment. I blamed the Aga but, in truth, I overcooked it and used too much sugar. The second batch was a winner: slightly tart with a hint of perfume from a small sprig of lavender added to the fruit pan.
To make the jam, I quartered the plums, discarding the seeds, and sprinkled over caster sugar in a ratio of 1kg plums to 500g sugar and left the fruit and sugar to macerate overnight. To cook the jam, I used a technique I found on natashaskitchen.com: bring the sugary fruit to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes then leave it to cool before returning to a simmer and repeating the cooling/simmering. I found that three lots of simmering for 10 minutes produced a really lovely set.
Plum and almond tart (with crushed walnuts and lavender if you like)
The crushed walnuts that I added to the jam layer aren’t necessary, but add a little extra flavour and texture. This is very good eaten warm, with cold whipped cream, but it’s possible extra delicious the next day.
For the pastry
- 250g plain flour, plus extra for flouring
- 20g caster sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 125g cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the filling
- 180g unsalted butter
- 180g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 180g ground almonds
- about 250g good quality plum jam
- about 50g finely chopped walnuts (optional)
To make the pastry, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg, then mix with a palette knife or blunt-edged knife to form a dough. Shape into a disc – don’t knead – wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the filling, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs. Stir in the almonds until completely combined.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and place a baking sheet inside. Roll out the pastry dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured greaseproof paper and use it to line a 25cm fluted tart tin. Press the dough into the edge of the tin, roll a rolling pin over the top and pull away any excess. Prick the base all over with a fork. Vigorously stir the jam to loosen, mix in the walnuts (if using) then spread over the base of the pastry case with the back of a spoon. Spread the almond mixture evenly over the top and transfer to the baking sheet inside the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is firm to touch and the pastry golden.