February 29, 2012

for an impromptu dinner party

It was more than a year ago that I printed out a recipe for an apricot tart from my favorite food blog Orangette. I love making tarts because they're pretty and they look a lot harder than they are. Even so, I don't make them very often. When our friend Betsy came to visit us from Missouri, we ended up throwing an impromptu dinner party - the best kind - and I made a tart for dessert.

The recipe calls for apricots, but they're not in season now. I found some decent looking plums instead. You bake the tart for almost an hour, so the fruit gets soft and jammy. The amount of sugar is just right, and I added in some lemon juice to balance it out.

I love those evenings when you bring people together who don't know each other, but by the end of the night all your friends have become friends themselves. It's such a nice surprise when that happens.

Fruit tart
Recipe courtesy of Orangette
Use any kind of stone fruit; I used plums, but I'm looking forward to apricot season. Peaches would be very nice too.

4 Tbsp. ice water, plus more as needed
¾ tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
9 Tbsp. (4 ½ oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

5-6 ripe, good quality plums, halved and then quartered (8 pieces per plum)
1/3 cup sugar
3 pinches of salt
juice of 1/2 lemon

To make the dough:

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the ice water and cider vinegar.

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to blend. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles the size of peas. With the motor running, slowly add the water-vinegar mixture, processing just until the dough comes together and moist clumps form. The dough should hold together if you pick up a handful. If the dough seems a bit dry, add more ice water by the teaspoon, pulsing to incorporate. If it seems to wet, add a tiny bit of flour.

Dump the dough out onto a wooden board or clean counter-top sprinkled with flour. Shape it into two balls, and then press each ball into disk about 1 1⁄2 inches thick. Smooth the edges with your hands. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, smoothing out any cracks with your hands and the pressure of the plastic. Refrigerate the wrapped dough for at least 2 hours. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw it in refrigerator overnight before using.) Before rolling it out, allow the dough to soften slightly at room temperature for about 20 minutes. 

To assemble the tart:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large, wide circle big enough to fit a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Gently place the dough into the tart pan and press to fit, making sure the sides reach to the top. Put the pan with the dough into the freezer while you prepare the fruit.

In a large bowl, combine the halved-and-quartered plum wedges with the sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Toss well to combine. Remove pie crust from the freezer. Arrange the fruit into a concentric circle, starting from the outside and working your way in. Drizzle the remaining juices from the bowl over the fruit.

Bake on top of a cookie sheet for about 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The filling will look very juicy, but will thicken as it cools.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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