Monday, September 7, 2009

My Mom's Alsatian Fruit Tart

my mom's pluot tart, ready for half-baking (then we add the flan!)

My mom is an amazing cook, though she doesn't believe it when we tell her that.

My family is here (where my mom grew up) for three weeks. They're visiting other family and friends during the weeks, and coming back to us each weekend. Last night, we had a dinner for friends and family, and as I'd been drawn to some odd-looking, mottled pluots and bought a kilo on a whim (we used all but 4 of the pluots for this tart), I asked my mom to show me how she makes this tart. I have the recipe, but I hadn't watched her make it in a few years, and I like cooking with her better than following a recipe anyway.

It's super gorgeous and very easy. You make a buttery pâte brisée (no blind baking the shell) and line the tart pan with it. Then you put, cut side up, as many firm plum/pluot/apricot halves as will fit in the raw crust. Put this into a 400'F oven for 30 minutes or so. While it's baking, mix up the custard ingredients (this recipe would work nicely). Carefully pour this mixture into the hot, half-baked tart and bake until the custard is set and browned.

If your fruit is very juicy, skip the flan, sprinkle sugar on top of the fruit, and just bake it until the crust is golden, the juices are bubbling, and the sugar is a bit caramelized and crunchy.

We made this with elephant pluots, which were sort of dreary looking on the outside but turned out to have beautifully vivid, sweet-tart flesh. My mom makes this tart with all sorts of firm stone fruits (damson plums and apricots being her favourites), though the original recipe is for a tarte aux pommes alsacienne (Alsatian apple tart). The original recipe is from Elle Magazine en français, ca. 1970s, which she had a subscription to because she liked the recipe cards and knitting patterns, and because she liked to keep up her French reading skills. Not that she needs the help- she's a language whiz.

I was lucky enough to grow up thinking that everyone ate desserts like this.

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