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Mid-late summer is peak season for some varieties of plums and pluots. Yes, pluots. Not all of the fruit in our orchard is heirloom, in part because, along the coast, we have to grow varieties that will perform well here. Apricots don’t like our cool coastal weather, so our compromise was to grow pluots and apriums instead.

This year it’s been a battle of farmer versus squirrels in our orchard though. As is often the case with the squirrels, they’ll gleefully take fruit from the tree before it’s truly ripe. In an attempt to salvage as much fruit as I could from our ‘Flavor King’ pluot tree this season, I conceded to harvest the tree this week, a little early, before the fruit was completely ripe. Excuse me for a moment while I thumb my nose at those little furry thieves. These are mine. MINE! ALL MINE! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sorry, lost myself there for a moment. So, with a basket of semi-ripe pluots sitting on the kitchen counter, and a pantry full of jam and marmalade from all of our preserving efforts in July, I simply couldn’t bring myself to make any more jam. A pluot tart sounded like it might hit the spot though. So here it is, a perfect send off for some of summer’s bounty.

There’s absolutely no reason, if you’re swimming in plums, that you can’t use plums instead, or apricots when they’re in season, after all, a pluot is part plum, and part apricot!

Apple Tart

Course: Dessert
Yield: 8 Servings

Equipment

  • Food Processor with cutting blade
  • 9-1/2 x 1″ round tart pan with removable bottom
  • Pastry Brush

Materials

The Pâte Brisée

  • 1 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 10 Tbsp Cold Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1/2 inch cubes)

The Frangipane

  • 3/4 Cup Whole Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/2 Tsp Pure Almond Extract
  • 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (Melted)

The Fruit

  • 4-5 Firm Red-skinned Apples (Cortland, Gala, Winesap, etc.)
  • 1 Whole Lemon Juiced
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar

The Glaze

  • Reserved Peels from the Apples
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Water

Instructions

Pâte Brisée (Pastry)

  • Put the flour, salt, sugar, and cubed butter into the food processor fitted with the metal cutting blade. Process for five 1-second pulses to evenly distribute the butter through the flour.
  • Add the ice-cold water, and pulse for an additional 10-12 seconds, just until the dough begins to come to together. Turn the dough out into a medium bowl, shape into a ball, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes before rolling.
  • On a floured board, roll out the dough into a 12-13 inch circle, and transfer to the tart pan. Press the dough gently into the bottom and sides of the pan, without stretching the dough, and lightly dock the surface.
  • To trim the pastry, lay the dough over the tart pan edges, and quickly trim the excess with one swipe of your rolling pin.
  • Place the pastry-lined tart pan on a small baking sheet, and set in the refrigerator to chill the dough for at least 15 minutes, while you prepare the fruit and frangipane.

Prepare the Frangipane

  • Place the whole almonds, and sugar, into the food processor, and grind to a fine powder. Add the eggs, almond and vanilla extracts, and melted butter, and blend until smooth. Spoon the frangipane into the prepared shell, and smooth with a spoon or spatula.
  • Set the tart shell, with the frangipane, in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the fruit.

Prepare the Fruit

  • Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a large bowl filled with cold water, and stir briefly. Set aside.
  • Rinse and dry the apples. For perfect, even slices, I prefer to use a traditional apple peeler-corer-slicer. (The apples can be peeled, cored, and sliced thinly by hand).
  • As each apple is sliced, place it in the lemon water to prevent browning, and reserve the apple skins for the glaze (instructions below).

Assemble The Tart

  • Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. If you used the apple peeler, and the apples are still ‘whole’, take an apple from the lemon water, dab it dry with a kitchen, or paper, towel, and slice in half from the stem to the blossom end. Discard one or two slices from the ends of each half as they’re usually too small for arranging on the tart.
  • With the tart shell in front of you, arrange the apple slices on the surface of the frangipane, starting along the outside edge of the tart at the 9 O’clock position, and working clockwise. Be sure the cored side of each slice is facing away from you. Fan the slices, slightly overlapping the previous slice, so the cored section of the slice underneath is no longer visible.
  • For the center of the tart, either arrange smaller slices in concentric circles, or simply take one sliced half of an apple to fill the center.
  • Brush the surface of the tart with the remaining 2 Tbsp of melted butter, and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of sugar. If your fruit is very sweet you can decrease the sugar to 1 tablespoon.

Bake The Tart

  • Position the tart on small baking sheet, and bake in the center of a 400 F oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the pastry has browned. Rotate once during baking to ensure even cooking.

Prepare The Vanilla-Infused Glaze

  • While the tart is baking, in a small saucepan add the reserved apple skins, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds in to the pan, and add the pod.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl through a mesh sieve, pressing the skins with the back of a spoon, and then return the syrup to the pan. 
  • Boil the remaining syrup over medium-high heat until the syrup is reduced to approximately 1/4 cup.
  • When the tart has finished baking, set aside on a rack to cool for 5 minutes, then brush the surface of the tart with the vanilla-infused syrup.
  • Serve the tart either slightly warm, or at room temperature, with a little homemade vanilla ice cream, or lightly sweetened cream. It’s unlikely there will be any leftovers to worry about, but if there are, refrigerate them for up to 2 days. Enjoy!