Before plum season is upon us, I thought that I would share this tasty plum desert recipe that my family has been making for years. The dish is more like a tart than a crumble when completed, but relies on a crumble mixture in its composition. I used frozen plum halves from last season, but fresh plums are easier to work with. If you choose to make it with frozen plums, they do work just as well as fresh ones in this recipe. I recommend with frozen plums only slightly defrosting them before slicing – they are extremely hard to work with once fully defrosted.
If you have access to lots of plums and want to freeze some, cut them in half, remove the pits and lay separated on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in your freezer. Once frozen, pop the frozen plum halves into a ziplock removing as much air as possible and return to the freezer.
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 pounds (approximately 12) dark plums, pitted and cut into eighths (cut smaller plums into sixths)
Heavy cream for serving, whipped or unwhipped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine 1 cup of the sugar and the salt; cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the flour.
Set aside half the mixture. Add the cinnamon, baking power and 1 egg to the other half. Mix until well blended. The dough will be quite sticky. Layer the bottom of a 10 inch tart pan with the dough (just the bottom and not up the sides) by dropping teaspoons of the dough around the perimeter of the pan and then the centre, using a spatula to join and spread the dough evenly across the bottom. Bake until just starting to turn golden, approximately 10 minutes.
While the pastry is baking, whisk together 1/4 cup of the sugar, the remaining egg, the cream and the almond and vanilla extracts.
Remove the pastry from the oven, leaving the oven on, and spread the plum slices on top. I find it best to arrange the slices in circles beginning from the rim of the dish and working toward the centre. Pour the cream mixture over top and sprinkle with the reserved butter flour mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and return to the oven baking until the topping is nicely browned, 20-30 minutes.
Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or unwhipped whipping cream, as preferred.