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Plum tarts

(Jill Santopietro)
September 10, 2008
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Makes two 8-inch tarts

People often shy away from tarts because of the precision required. A free-form tart calls for half the work of a traditional one. If the filling happens to spill out, it's rustic and beautiful just the same. Sugared plums, a satisfying mix of sweet and tart, are the ideal complement to caramelized buttery pastry. Make the dough in a bowl, handle it lightly, and roll it into two rounds. Blend ground almonds, flour, and sugar together to act as a cushion under sliced plums and to thicken their juices. This pastry comes from "Chez Panisse Café Cookbook," by Alice Waters, who got the recipe from author Jacques Pépin. It seems to work for everyone.

DOUGH

2 cups flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut up and chilled
1/3 cup ice water
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. With your fingertips, work half of the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse oatmeal. Work in the remaining butter until the biggest pieces are the size of large blueberries. In stages, toss with some of the water; the dough should be ropey and rough. Stop adding water when there are still a few bits of dry flour in the bowl.

2. Gather the dough into two balls, flatten into discs, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 30 minutes.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll two 1/8-inch-thick circles; refrigerate until firm.

FRUIT

2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons flour
2 pounds ripe plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/3-inch thick
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough rounds on the baking sheet.

2. In a mortar and pestle or a small zipper plastic bag with a mallet, crush the almonds. In a bowl, toss them with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the flour. Leaving a 2-inch border, divide the mixture evenly between the rounds. Arrange the fruit overlapping in concentric circles. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.

3. Fold over the edges, crimping them around the fruit. Brush the rims with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Jill Santopietro

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