We’re nearing the end of summer and the plums have been superb. I wanted a final plum celebration to tide me over until next season.
I was on a mission–looking for those tiny Italian prune plums at the Sunday North Beach Farmer’s Market. As we tasted several varieties of purple plums at Inzana Ranch & Produce (Hughson, CA) we heard a story about the farmer’s visit to his ancestral village near Messina Sicily. For days they were constantly surrounded by family and villagers in awe of the special guests from America. With that Sicilian embrace how could you not get in touch with a part of your cultural DNA.
The prune plums weren’t quite at their peak yet. I needed something more mature for the rustic crostata I had in mind. The winner of our taste test were the relatively new varietal Tulare Giants–sweet as sugar and a beautiful purple-yellow in color. Not too juicy so they’re great for baking.
A little dollop of whipped cream is all you need to garnish and finish the crostata. The crust is tender and lends a crumbly buttery finish to each bite. The plums caramelize on top in the open center and remain soft and sweet beneath the crust.
But I’ll have to make this again. The small Italian prune plums are my favorite and they may just be sweeter and riper next Sunday at the North Beach Farmer’s Market. You can go to market at noon or later and still have your pick of all the bounty.
Stop by Sunday–say hello to friends and neighbors–get some great local organic produce. Maybe you’ll hear a cello or maybe a guitar and song. You’ll be inspired for sure….
So here’s the crostata recipe many of you have been asking for since my Il Pranzo post last summer. Can’t believe it’s that time of the year again!
Plum Tart (Crostata di Prugne)
- CRUST The ingredients for each part of the crostata are listed separately.
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons very cold butter
- 4 tablespoons icy water
- 1 1/2 pounds plums (or your favorite stonefruit at its peak)
- 1 medium lemon zested
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Put your stone on the middle rack and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor bowl. Pulse to mix the dry ingredients.
- Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces. Scatter them evenly on top of the flour.
- Pulse ten times in short bursts. The dough should be crumbly and without many big butter pieces.
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the icy water on the dough. Briefly pulse 6 times. The dough should have come together in clusters. If the clusters have not formed sprinkle a teaspoon of icy water.
- Scrape out all the dough and press them together.
- Knead on a floured board for a few seconds to form a smooth dough. Flatten into a round disk.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one-half hour.
- Cut the plums in half and remove the pit. (Larger stonefruit may need to be quartered.)
- In a large bowl toss the plums with the zest of a lemon, apricot jam and small butter pieces.
- Mix to coat the plums evenly with the jam and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- On a flowered board roll out the cold dough into a circle with a 15 inch diameter. You can start by stretching the dough into a circle with your hands. Then use a rolling pin start at the center of the dough and roll to the edge. Flip the dough once while rolling it out. Turning the dough 90 degrees before each roll helps form a more perfect circle. If the edge is too ragged trim it with a sharp knife. This is a rustic crostata so it does not have to be perfect.
- Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper that covers your baking sheet. Lift the parchment paper with the dough onto the baking sheet.
- Sprinkle a 1/3 cup of the breadcrumb mixture on the center of the dough to soak up the juices. Be sure to leave a 2 or 3 inch band of dough without the breadcrumbs so you can form the top crust.
- Place the plums in a concentric circles over the breadcrumb area of the dough. Work from the outside in. Make sure the butter pieces are evenly distributed.
- Fold over the uncovered band of dough to form the pleated top crust.
- Sprinkle some of the remaining breadcrumb mix over the uncovered plums and the top crust. If you have juicy fruit sprinkle more breadcrumb mix on top of the fruit.
- Put the baking sheet with the crostada on your stone. Bake for 25 minutes then turn the pan from front to back. Continue baking for about another 15 minutes until the crust takes on a light golden color and the plums are bubbling a bit and the edges are starting to caramelize.
- Cool the crostata on the baking sheet for 15 minutes and then lift the crostata with the parchment paper onto a cooling rack and let it cool until it is set at least 15 minutes more.
- Slide the crostata off the parchment paper onto a serving dish.
- Serve warm or at room temperature all by itself or with a dollop of whipped cream or some vanilla gelato. (Sometimes I let the gelato melt a bit and use it like a thick chilly creme anglaise.)