Recipe: Perfect plum tart from Joanne Yolles of Scaramouche and Pangaea fame
By Joanne Yolles
George Brown Chef School
PREP TIME: 25 minutes
REFRIGERATION TIME: 2 hours 20 minutes
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ vanilla bean
8 ripe, firm black plums or pluots
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 cup ground almonds
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1. Prepare pastry by placing butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cream using a mixer with a paddle attachment. Blend in egg yolks one at a time. In another bowl, sift flour with baking powder. Add to butter mixture and mix on low speed until the dough comes together. It will be very soft. Form into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until firm.
2. To prepare roasted plums, preheat oven to 375º F and cut the fruit into 1-cm-thick slices. Place sugar in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Using a paring knife, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds into sugar. Using your fingertips, rub the sugar and vanilla together. Add the plums and toss to coat. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes until they’re tender but still hold their shape. Cool completely. If making ahead of time, the roasted plums and syrup will keep well stored separately in containers and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. Bring them to room temperature before assembling tart.
3. When the dough is chilled, grease a 9-inch fluted springform tart pan with butter. Roll the dough into a rough 11-inch circle. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, then unroll it over the tart pan. Press and fit the dough into the pan to form a tart shell. Don’t worry if it falls apart; just patch as necessary. Pass rolling pin over top of tart shell to remove excess dough. Chill in freezer at least 20 minutes until firm.
4. Preheat oven to 350º F.
5. When the tart shell is chilled, line the interior with foil or parchment paper. Fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes in centre of oven until pastry edges are dry, set and lightly golden. Remove beans or weights and foil. Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
6. For the almond filling, place butter and sugar in a large bowl. Using a stand or handheld electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream until smooth and light in colour. Beat in eggs one at a time until evenly mixed. Add ground almonds and flour. Using low speed, mix just to combine.
7. Spread almond filling in cooled pre-baked tart shell.
8. Drain plums, reserving liquid. Arrange plum slices in concentric circles over almond filling, overlapping slightly.
9. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in centre of the preheated oven, until the filling puffs up and begins to turn golden brown around edges. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
10. Meanwhile, prepare the plum syrup. The plum liquid may already be thick and syrupy. If not, place it in a small saucepan on medium-high heat and simmer until reduced by half. Cool completely.
11. Just before serving, cool tart and brush syrup lightly over plums and sift icing sugar around edges of tart.
This recipe is excellent served with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Mix any remaining plum syrup into whipped cream and serve it with the tart. You can also stir it into sparkling water for a refreshing soda.
GEORGE BROWN CHEF SCHOOL
Pastry chefs are rarely elevated to celebrity status. But Joanne Yolles is a household name among Toronto foodies for the incredible pies she made during her 13-year stint at the Forest Hill mainstay Scaramouche and six years at Yorkville’s Pangaea. Now retired from restaurants, Yolles teaches at the George Brown Chef School and spends Sunday afternoons making tarts at home. This recipe is a hybrid of two of her signature desserts: the apricot-hazelnut tart she made at Scaramouche and the roasted plum compote she made at Pangaea. It’s a quintessentially Ontario creation made with the sweet plums that are ubiquitous at farmers’ markets every fall. Her secret weapons: baking powder in the crust, which gives it a cookie-like crackle, and vanilla bean, her all-time favourite ingredient.