A recently purchased set of cookbooks I’ve been swooning over are Nancy Silverton’s Breads from La Brea Bakery and Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from La Brea Bakery. In the first book, the pictures of her loaves say it all; in the second, the variety of pastries is really astounding. Not only that, they are unique finds you’ve never heard of to elegant versions of “old favorites.”
While I’m not a big fan of plums, her recipe for Red Plum Tart still caught my eye (perhaps I read this right off a Far Breton high?). Thus when I saw some red-fleshed plums on sale I snatched them up. Only then did I start reading the recipe and see how complicated it was.
Perhaps complicated is not the right word, but there are a lot of steps. “Involved” maybe? I spread this up into little “bites” over several days and it didn’t feel like quite as much work. The recipe was nicely amenable to that.
First I made the tart dough–the twist here was the addition of toasted anise seeds. Because it is quite a moist dough, even all the chilling it got still left it somewhat sticky, though I think a better flouring of my rolling pin would have resolved that.
After the dough was made, I roasted the hazelnuts for the tart filling. This (besides rounding out flavor, I am sure) also means you can rub the skins off. Essentially rub the skins together in a piece of fabric and they do come away, though the last few I had to pick at a bit.
Next step? The brown butter. I hope the pictures can illustrate what happens–it’s quite something to boil butter!
The cooled brown butter is mixed with the ground hazelnuts and lots of egg whites to make the filling (a great way to use up egg whites by the way!) Then you pour it into your prepared tart shell:
Finally, time for the red-fleshed plums. I wondered what these were going to look like when I cut them open, and the picture really doesn’t do much justice–it is a brilliant, ruby red, so much more beautiful than that bland tan flesh I (at least) always associate with plums. (Like I said, not all that into plums, though there are exceptions).
Because I only had a 9 inch tart shell (rather than the 12 inches called for) I did not cut up the whole 2lb of plums, figuring I could do so later if I needed to. And it was a good thing–I had a hard time getting the 1 1/2 pounds I did cut up to fit!
It baked up beautifully. I also found it to be quite good, though surprisingly rich (must be the hazelnuts and all that butter–I think the 12-inch tart pan is specified for a reason). It didn’t have quite so many takers when I brought it into work, and I’m not sure why, but so it goes. Ideally, I think it might be nice with a bit of anise-scented ice cream. But I was “all kitchened out” by the end of this!