So summer has officially shifted over to make way for autumn and now the flimsy clothes have been packed away it’s time to stop all the lounging around (I know I’m finding it hard too), start making the most of all those serious produce gluts and start cooking. I’m not sure about you but I don’t know of a better place to start than with some gorgeous autumnal plums. And cake of course.
Now there are loads of lovely choices around for desert at this time of year, not just plums (think apples, pears or blackberries to name a few). Not only are they all cheap, cheerful and easy to make but they also make a nice change from chocolate which, I have to be honest, I would probably finish most meals with if I could. But I had a box of plums hanging around this week and as usual, all the prime specimens had gone leaving just the slightly squidgy ones that none of my children fancied eating as well as a handful of physallis that was starting to take on that left on the shelf look. So I thought I’d transform them, a la fairy godmother into something spectacular and the first thing that sprung to mind was plums and almonds together in a frangipane tart. A classic combination. The hazelnut bit came in later when I opened the cupboards and saw that my boys had used up most of the ground almonds (but fortunately not the ground hazelnuts) in their shakes and had (and somewhat unsurprisingly) omitted to tell me. But all that was forgotten and forgiven when it came out of the oven. The new combination was equally, if not more, delicious and one definitely worth adding to the repertoire.
Plum and Hazelnut Frangipane Tart Recipe
Serves 10 (or my family of 6 but the least said about that the better):
For the pastry:
125g cold butter, cut into small cubes
250g plain flour
For the Frangipane:
12 ripe victoria plums
A handful of physallis/ cape gooseberries (optional)
225g softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
225g caster sugar
5 free-range eggs
125g ground almonds
100g ground roasted hazelnuts
Start by making the pastry. Either rub the butter into your four, so take the easy on effort/ not so easy on washing up route and blitz in a food processor, until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.
Slowly add enough cold water that the mixture can come together as a dough. Be careful not to overwork it, just knead it enough to form a smooth cohesive ball. Wrap it in cling film and stick it in the fridge for half an hour or so.
When your half an hour is up, take it out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface so that you have a big enough piece to line a 23 cm loose bottomed flan dish with a few cms overhang.
Grease and line the dish then carefully line it with the pastry. Don’t trim off the overhang yet, pop the tin back in the fridge for a bit whilst the oven preheats.
Prick the chilled pastry case all over with a fork, then cover with baking paper and fill with baking beans then bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. After that, remove the paper and the baking beans and carry on baking for another 5-8 minutes. You want the case to be properly sealed and nicely golden looking to avoid the infamous soggy bottom.
When it’s done, remove from the oven, carefully trim off the overhang and allow to cool whilst you get on with the filling.
Cream together the butter and sugar until it’s nice and pale and creamy. Beat int the vanilla extract.
Carry on beating as you add the eggs, one at a time, making sure one is completely integrated before you add the next.
Fold through the almonds and hazelnuts and pour the mixture into the pastry case.
Top artistically with your plums and physallis (if using) then bake at 180 deg.C for 40 mins, or until it is risen, golden and just set. Keep an eye on it though; you may need to cover it with foil for the last ten minutes or so, it all depends on how zealous your oven is.
Serve as an autumnal Sunday dinner dessert topped with double cream, or as a little afternoon pick me next to your tea or coffee. Your choice.