This Mirabelle plum tart is a typical September dessert in France. The end of Summer is an amazing time, the apples, the quinces, the plums are ready to be picked up. The veggie patch is booming. Often, there is an Indian Summer and people spend time together chatting while picking fruits, pealing, baking, preparing precious preserves for the colder seasons.
Shake shake shake the Mirabelle tree! It’s a ritual you cannot avoid! Bearing wicker baskets, kids and grown-ups start the treasure hunt.
Once the golden balls are found, one has to be very careful not to grab a hungry bee with it, or a stingy wasp or even worse, a nasty hornet. Sometimes a stick is a good tool to check if nobody’s buzzing around…
Part of the fun is to test the product :) They need to be sweet, very ripe in order not to be too acidic.
Mam, my beloved grand-mother will not spend a summer without coming to her Mirabelle trees and without picking her delicious plums. She makes a delicious Mirabelle jam and Mirabelle tart.
Pierre (on the left) my brother has a very serious carrier, is interested in pretty serious stuff but one frivolous thing he does so well and loves making is bouquets. His flower arrangement make our family table very special, whatever the season. Makes the tart taste better!
Well let’s talk about Mirabelle tarts then! It’s pretty simple and classic: one pastry dough, a dose of pastry cream with my usual cap of rum, a bucket of mirabelle or any plums cut in two sprinkled with a good dose of sugar :)
Here you go, this is my grand-mother Mam’s recipe.
(PS: You don’t need to burn it the way I did…. but a Mirabelle tart needs to be caramelised.)
- 1 egg
- 120g cold butter
- 250g flour
- 1 tbs (env 12 g) caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tbs water
- 1 tbsp brown or raw sugar for the top of the crust
- 4 tbsp any sugar for the Mirabelles
- 3 eggs
- 100ml milk
- 100ml water
- 35g corn flour
- 80g sugar
- 20g butter
- 1 cap or tbs of nice brown rum
- Mirabelles of course or any fruit really :)
- Pastry: In a bowl put the flour and the cold butter cut in cubes. Add the sugar and the pinch of salt.
- With your hands, rub the ingredients between your palms until you get a sandy texture. I remember my grand-mother doing that very quickly.
- Add the water and the egg.With the tip of your fingers, work the dough to make a ball but do not overwork it. If you keep it a bit crumbly not to play-dohy. If it is too "worked" it will be too hard when cooked.
- Wrap the ball in plastic film or put it in a zipped plastic bag or even wrap it in a humid tea towel. Put it in the fridge for at least 50 mins.
- You can freeze it at this stage too or keep it for up to 2 days in the fridge.
- Cream: Pour the water and milk in a pan with a spoon of natural vanilla extract (I rarely have pods because they dry up in the fridge or might get mouldy). Bring it to the boil and take it off the fire. Put it aside for a few minutes with a lid to infuse the vanilla. If you want a very intense vanilla flavour, make you milk mix 1 day in advance and let is rest 24 hours in the fridge with a lid on. If you are in a hurry. Don't wait :)
- In a bowl, whisk the yolks with sugar until light yellow and creamy.
- Add the corn flour. Whisk.
- If you milk mix has been waiting with it's lid on, reheat it until it simmers. If you just boiled it and you are in a hurry... then,
- Pour the milk mix in the bowl with the egg mix very slowly starting with a few drops which you will mix very energetically. Pour more and more, whisk fast until you have poured the whole liquid.
- Put everything back in the pan. Bring to the boil while whisking vigorously to avoid the cream to stick at the bottom of the pan and burn.
- It will start to thicken very quickly. When it's reached a thick custard feel, take it off the fire. Pour the content in a bowl and let it cool for about 15 mins.
- When you feel (with your finger, yum!) that it has reached a warmish stage but is not too hot any more, add the butter. Whisk it to melt it (see, the butter needs to melt, so don't let it cool too much) it will make the cream silky smooth.
- With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl clean and arrange the cream to be flat in the bowl. Place some plastic film over it, touching the cream all over. It will avoid a dry skin to form on top.
- Put it in the fridge until cold.
- Pastry: Pre-heat oven at 180°C (356°F). Take your ball of dough out of the fridge. Place baking paper (parchment) on your bench longer than the size of the circle of pastry you want to achieve. Cut another piece of parchment the same size. Put your dough in the middle of the first sheet, place the second on top and with a rolling pin, flatten the dough to 4 to 5mm (0,16 to 0,2in) thick in a circle.
- Place the flat pastry in the mould. With a fork, prick the dough all over, leaving no large space untouched to prevent the pastry from raising. Spread a spoon of raw or brown sugar on it. You can either put the second piece of baking paper (parchment) on top and press against the side of the mold, putting beans or clay beads to keep it in place. My mother uses corks wrapped in foil which she keeps for centuries in a tin box. She presses them against the "walls of the tart" to old them up while it cooks.
- Bake the "empty" crust it until very lightly golden.
- Take the cream bowl out of the fridge. Pour rum in the bottle's cap. and then pour it on the cream. Whisk it very well to give it a smooth aspect (the cream looks a bit hard when it comes out of the fridge).
- Spread the cream on the crust.
- Place the Mirabelles, sprinkle a bit of sugar on top and put in the oven for another 20 minutes.
- Leave it to cool. Place the pastry on a nice serving plate if you have a friend who can help you carry it out of the mould grabbing the 4 corners of the baking paper ;)
- NOTES: you can chose another alcohol such as Kirsch or Whisky or Cognac. You can also leave it as is, the vanilla flavour is delicious. Rum adds the French touch though. If the fresh fruits are way to expensive, use good canned peaches or mangos, cut them in the shape you want, bite size is good or thin and long (easy to cut). In the case of fresh berries or canned fruits, no need to cook the fruits, just spread the cream, add the fruits, and that's it. If you are after a fancy finish on fresh berries. Take a few big spoons of strawberry gelee (jam that has not fruit bits in it, only jellified fruit juice). Melt it in a pan and spread it as a shiny "pâtisserie" finish on the fruits with a pastry brush.