I was overjoyed to find a punnet of Victoria plums on a farm stall at the weekend. I saw them, charged over, possibly skipped the queue and made them mine with a minimum of delay. All this because it is a fruit of which I have very fond memories. In the house where I grew up, we had a Victoria plum tree, and year after year, it provided a magnificent yield of sweet yellow-fleshed plums with red skin. As a child, these were also pleasingly large, and there never seemed to be any question about us not being able to eat as many as we could manage.
The usual answer when I have plums would be to make jam. Victoria plums produce a lovely russet-coloured preserve, but I have a bit of a glut of the sweet stuff at the moment. Something else was called for. What about something everyone likes, a fruity French tart? Okay, sniggering aside, a great way to prepare fruit is a simple puff pastry base, pile on the fruit, and bake in the oven. Assuming the fruit was photogenic to start with and you have been a little bit artistic in how you arrange the fruit, you get a chic/rustic tart.
The great thing about a fruit galette is that you don’t have to put in much work to end up with a spectacular looking (and tasting) tart. I’m a busy person, and I don’t make puff pastry. I do know the theory and I can make pretty good puff pastry, but I am also quite happy to buy one of the excellent all-butter versions that you can buy. There, I’ve said it, and I’m not embarrassed!
Just prepare the pastry base, fold over the edges (which have the dual function of creating a pastry “frame” for the fruit, and stopping all the fruit juices seeping out and creating a big, sticky mess in the bottom of your oven), then fill with fruit of your choice. Plums work well as they also look attractive when laid out in the centre, but equally dramatic results come with apple, gooseberry, cherry or blaeberry (one I plan to make in the near future).
In my version, as the plums I had were very ripe, I didn’t want the tart to be overly-sweet. I just brushed the fruit with a little orange blossom honey and baked. The result was sublime. The fruit does not become sweet, but keeps a little kick of tartness, which is something that I very much like when eating this sort of baked fruit item. A wondeful combinaton of colour, fragrance, flavours and crisp butter pastry. Somehow fitting for that most regal member of the plum family.
For plum galette:
• 200g puff pastry
• 8 large plums
• 25g butter
• 2 tablespoons liquid honey (orange blossom or acacia)
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and put to one side.
Roll the pastry into a large rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet, and fold over 2cm on each edge and press lightly. Brush the centre with the melted butter (use about half of it).
Cut the plums into eighths. Arrange on the pastry, alternating the direction in each row (see the picture).
Add the honey to the melted butter, heat and stir well until very runny. Brush the plums with the honey-butter mixture and sprinkle the granulated sugar over the plums (avoiding the pastry). Place the galette in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Transfer the galette from the fridge to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200°C (390°F), and cook for another 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit looks soft and dry on the surface.
Worth making? This is a really great and really easy dessert. Quick to make, and easy to play around with the type of fruit you use to suit what you like. Surely worth trying.