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“He lived in a world shining and fresh and as uninspected as Eden on the sixth day. His mind plunged like a colt in a happy pasture, and when later the world put up fences he plunged against the wire, and when the final stockade surrounded him, he plunged right through it and out.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
I thought I saw Superman. It was the unfurling of his tattered cape that hinted at his disguise. He met my gaze as he strode past. Beyond the matted brown hair I saw strength in his eyes. His filthy sleeping bag was flung across his shoulders and as he glided past; it billowed out behind him. With long sure strides he easily cleared a path as he navigated the isle. Some of the clerks had gathered to whisper. Like everyone else I wondered what he was doing inside the store. I began to feel ashamed. How could I know this man’s story? The choices he has made, the fear that feeds his pain and the terror of being homeless and hungry? Jolted from complacency and privilege I veered to gratitude. How fortunate I am to shop at the grocery store of my choice and have a kitchen to cook our meals. It is a privilege to be able to indulge in making summer tarts to share with you. He gave me a gift fitting of a superhero; a reminder to find gratitude in each day. A homeless man was at my favorite grocery store today. But I thought It might have been Superman.
These plums are scarlet red inside and out and dangle like a ruby necklace laced around our neighbors stately backyard tree. Gifted with two two large baskets of plums I made two batches of jam and these tarts. These plums were very tart and called for a gracious amount of sugar and for serving, a scoop of ice cream. The plums do become sweeter when very soft and ripe but then disappear in a puddle of sweet crimson juice when sliced. Even then the pit holds fast. I found my way with the plums by cutting them like a mango instead of an apricot.
I am winding my way through summer with all manner of pies and tarts. As each fruit finds it’s season, I’m off to try another pastry recipe to stuff full of juicy ripe fruit. If fruit is summer’s superhero then buttery pastry is the vehicle of transportation to deliver our hero to your dessert plate. This pastry crust recipe is the flakiest I’ve ever made and no more challenging to prepare than regular pie crust dough. Be sure to leave the butter in large chunks and handle the dough as little as possible for a tender and flaky crust. Using full fat yogurt and egg yolks as the liquid in the dough makes for a splendid tart. Half a recipe of pastry was used for the tarts and the balance was frozen to use later.
|Pastry for the tarts|
|1-1/4C/310gr||full fat, runny yogurt (not Greek)|
|1C/226gr||unsalted cold butter|
|15||ripe plums (4 cups after pitting and slicing)|
|To finish the tarts|
|1/2C||plum or seedless raspberry jam|
- In a small bowl mix together the yogurt and egg yolks.
- In the bowl of a food processor (or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) pulse (mix) together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the cold butter in cubes and add the cubes to the dry ingredients. Pulse (mix) until the butter is the size of small coins: pennies, dimes and nickels. For a flaky crust do not break the majority of butter into any smaller pieces. Dump the contents of the food processor bowl into a large mixing bowl. Add the yogurt mixture to the bowl and combine with the flour mixture. The dough will come together in large clumps. Be sure to scrape down to the bottom of the bowl to mix all the ingredients together. Add more yogurt, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too dry. Do not over mix. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Bring the dough together in a large ball and knead two or three times; just until the dough forms a cohesive mass. Do not over handle the dough. Cut the ball in half and flatten into two disks. Wrap each disk individually in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours before making the tarts. (I used one disk of pastry for this recipe, and froze the other disk to use later.)
- While the dough chills prepare the plums. Cut the flesh off the plums by cutting big slices around the pit. Mix the plums with the sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. Let the mixture rest for fifteen minutes before using.
- Heat the oven to 375°. Mix together the sugars, flour and melted butter in a small bowl. Have the jam ready to spread on the bottom of the tarts. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Butter the tart pans.
- With a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough approximately 1/8” to 1/4” thick. Don’t be dissuaded by any large pieces of butter as you roll out the dough. Add a little flour and keep rolling. Those pieces of butter will make the flaky in your crust. Measure, cut and line the tart pans with dough. Gently push the dough down into the contours of the tart pans without stretching the dough. Trim the dough flush with the edge of the tart pan. Gather together the dough scraps and chill them for twenty minutes before rolling out. Spread a thin layer of jam on top of the dough in the bottom of the tart pans. Chill the dough and jam filled tart pans for twenty minutes before adding the plums.
- In the tart pans arrange the prepared plums on top of the jam, skin side up. The plums should rise above their juices in the tart pans. Spread a bit of the sugar mixture around the plums. Place the tarts on the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. The larger tarts took 30 minutes to bake. When done the pastry crust will turn golden brown and the plums will glisten as their juices bubble around them. Cool before serving. A scoop of ice cream would be a splendid addition.