Learn how to make this Alsace plum tart: Tarte aux Quetschs. Traditionally made in September when the Quetsch plums are in season. From Rosi Hanson's book Recipes from the French Wine Harvest.
This open plum tart can use the yeast pastry or pâte sablée, a crumbly sweet pastry. These local plums are large, oval and dark-skinned: the sort that are used for drying and for cooking, known as Quetsch or Quetsche. They are in season in September, when these tarts are much eaten. Quetschs can be sharp-tasting and therefore will need plenty of sugar. Otherwise, use whatever plums are available and adjust the sugar according to their natural sweetness.
FOR 4 – 6 PEOPLE
For the pastry to line a 20 cm (8 in) tart tin (usually with a removable-base and fluted-edges):
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons white caster sugar
175 g (6 oz) plain flour, sieved
90 g (3 oz) butter at room temperature
4 tablespoons iced water
FOR THE FILLING:
1 kg (2 lb) ripe plums
30 – 60 g (1 – 2 oz) caster sugar
a little powdered cinnamon
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F, 200°C. Put a heavy baking sheet in the middle.
Grease a 20 cm (8 in) tart tin with butter. Add the salt and sugar to the flour in a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour. Add about half the water to moisten – adding more if it seems necessary – the pastry should be crumbly, not sticky and wet. Straightaway make it into a ball and put it into the middle of the buttered tart tin. Use your hands to press it down, spreading it over the base of the tin and gradually up round the edges. Trim off any extra round the edges.
Halve or quarter the plums (depending on size) and take out the stones. Arrange them on the pastry, in concentric circles. The fruit shrinks as it cooks, so it needs to be closely packed. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon. Bake on top of the baking sheet in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. When the tart is cooked, slide it out of the tin and onto a cooling rack. It can be served warm or cold with a little icing sugar sprinkled over it.
Best to eat with a sweet wine such as a Vendages Tardives (late harvest) Pinot Gris or Riesling. Or Sélection de Grains Noble, a sweet, Alsace dessert wine with rich concentrated flavours.