There are tons of reasons to try a new recipe. Impressing friends or family, hungry friends or family, boredom, rainy days, gift card to Whole Foods… but there is also the lesser known but equally as compelling reason: A Challenge.
Which is where I found myself one day a few weeks ago when I was losing my mind and my productivity thanks to Instagram. I serendipitously stumbled upon Deborah Balint’s Instagram account, @rainydaybites where she posts monthly cookbook challenges. Her pick for September was Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and since I don’t have anything else to do with at least 7 minutes each day I responded that I loved the book and love Thomas Keller and I’d be all over that challenge.
Except that even though I claimed to know all about the book I had clearly not cracked the spine because I started running my mouth before flipping through the pages. Looking for something that excited me but that would be possible to execute in my abundant free time left me with very, very few options.
Until I found this little guy just sitting there looking all seasonally perfect and everything.
The recipe was simple enough (not counting two cross-referenced recipes) and was a good reminder of my culinary school days. First a pâte brisée which is not only simple to make but has the most pleasing consistency — and you get to smear it on the counter which feels goooood.
Then an almond creme that tastes delicious and looks super pretty spread neatly in the bottom of the tart pan.
And lastly beautiful (and patient, really, really patient) layering of all those plums that showed up in your CSA box. You know what I mean, don’t you? Who can eat that many plums?
So even though it all looks a little daunting, if you just put your head down and break it into 3 steps it is totally doable and totally delicious. And the best part is that the recipe for the pâte brisée makes twice what you need so if you just double the almond creme and pick up a few more plums you can make one to share. (Because really, no one is getting a bite if you only make one. No one but you, my friend.)
Now….one day to go until she announces her next cookbook challenge. Smart money is on me running my mouth again and ending up in the same predicament. My mom was right. I never learn.
- 8-10 small or 4-5 medium Santa Rosa plums or pluots
- 1/2 recipe pâte sucrée
- 1 1/4 cups (250g) almond creme
- 2 2/3 cups (375g) all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (46g) powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (47g) almond flour
- 1 stick (225g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 1/2 tablespoons (56g) eggs
- 1/2 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (73g) almond flour
- 2 1/4 (7g) teaspoons all purpose flour
- 2.5 ounces (73g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (44g) eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 8 3/4" tart ring
- Sift the flour, powdered sugar and almond flour into a medium bowl.
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium-low speed until the butter is the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix for about 30 seconds.
- Add the flour mixture in two additions mixing for 30 seconds on low after each addition.
- Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to check for hidden pockets of wet or dry ingredients. Mix for about 30 seconds.
- Add the eggs and mix on low speed until just combined, 15 to 30 seconds.
- Transfer the dough to the work surface. use the heel of your hand to smear the dough and work it together (see photo above).
- Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 4"x6" rectangle, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours but preferably overnight.
- Sift the almond flour, flour and powdered sugar into a medium bowl.
- Add the butter to a stand mixer and with a paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed until the butter is the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Add dry ingredients and mix until fluffy 2-3 minutes.
- Scrape the side and bottom of the bowl then add the eggs and almond extract. Blend on low speed for about 30 seconds until combined and smooth.
- Refrigerate until cold - about 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350F°/176C°
- Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator and place it on a piece of parchment paper with another piece of parchment paper on top. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper for baking the tart.
- Go back to the dough and roll it out, starting from the middle, making a ring large enough for your 8 3/4" tart ring.
- Carefully place the dough into the tart ring (dough will not be blind-baked).
- Carefully spoon and spread the almond creme into the shell making sure it is even along the bottom.
- Cut the plums into 1/8-inch thick wedges and arrange slices, facing the same direction, and each one overlapping the previous slice by about two-thirds. (This is important because they spread out and shrink as they cook). Continue with a second ring that slightly overlaps the first. Arrange the remaining slices to fill the middle of the tart.
- This recipe is taken from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook. The ingredients (except for the addition of almond extract) are exactly as the writers of the recipe listed them in the book however I have changed a the technique some to make it simpler for a home cook.
- If you want the exact Thomas Keller method, pick up the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. It is a lovely book and the care with which they write this recipe is noteworthy.