Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Already miss it

OK so tell me if this ever happens to you. You're doing something fun, and/or you're with someone special. It can be someone you rarely see, or someone you see all the time. You are having a wonderful time. So wonderful, in fact, that before said event or time with that person is even over, you already miss it. The nostalgia kicks in prematurely. You find yourself wistful for an occurrence that is still ongoing.

It happens to me all the time. For example, this past weekend while I was eating a Windy City Bird Dog at the Shake Shack in NYC with Husband, I missed the whole scenario even before the last bite of chicken sausage was gone. Recently, on a cruise of Sydney Harbour with Mom, I was enjoying her company and the day so much that I wished to stop time, so I wouldn't have to be nostalgic for it later. Then a few weeks ago, Husband met me for lunch at our local apple orchard. He brought me a turkey sandwich from home and we snacked on apples and ice cream as we sat on a bench next to a pile of pumpkins under a sunny blue late-September sky. You guessed it: I was nostalgic for it before we stood up to leave.

That day at the orchard -- in addition to purchasing many apples and behaving like a gigantic, embarrassing, emotional sap -- I also bought a whole bunch of plums. They were so pretty and jewel-like and purple that I couldn't bear to leave them on the shelf. I had it in my mind to make a rustic plum tart with a homemade, crunchy dough folded loosely over the lightly sweetened fruit and dusted with sparkly sanding sugar. I wanted it to accompany the baked chicken I was making to send Husband off on 24 hours of fasting for the Jewish holiday, but silly me didn't plan properly and thus the tart was still in the oven as the sun set and the pre-fast eating window closed. Which was sad for Husband, but good for me and Mom and Dad, who, unbound by dietary law, tucked into the tart with appropriate gusto. Sometimes it's good to be a Gentile.

Husband did share leftover tart with me the next day, after the holiday ended, his atoning was complete and he was allowed to eat. And I'm nostalgic for that moment, too. The moral of this story is: I am embarrassing and corny and, really, you can't take me anywhere. Except for somewhere that sells farm-fresh plums.


Shell adapted from Baking Illustrated, by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine

For the shell:

2 T. sour cream
2 T. ice water
5 oz. (1 c.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c. coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal
2 t. sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
7 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the filling:

1/2 c. hazelnuts
2 T. all-purpose flour
4 T. sugar, divided
1 lb. plums, pitted and sliced
1 McIntosh apple, cored and sliced
3 T. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 T. whipping cream
Sanding sugar

First, make the pastry. Stir together the sour cream and water in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside in the refrigerator.

In a food processor, process the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt until combined, about 4 one-second pulses. Add about half of the butter pieces to the flour mixture and process to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is about the size of small peas, another 4 one-second pulses. Add the remaining butter to the mixture and pulse again until most of the butter is incorporated (it's OK if some pea-size bits remain).

With the food processor on, stream in the sour cream mixture until the dough just comes together around the blade. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a 6-inch disk and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.

While the dough chills, make the nut filling. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts, flour and 2 T. of the sugar. Pulse until the mixture takes on a sandy texture; some big nut chunks are fine. Set aside.

When you are ready to roll out the dough, place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap and place it between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 13-inch round. Slide the dough, still between the parchment, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To assemble the tart, remove the dough from the refrigerator and pull off the top sheet of parchment. Spread the hazelnut mixture in the center of the dough, leaving a 2 1/2-inch border of dough. Pile the plums and apple on top of the nut mixture as rustically or as artfully as you like. Sprinkle the remaining 2 T. of sugar over the fruit, then dot the fruit with the chunks of butter.

Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit, using an offset spatula to release the dough from the parchment if it's sticking. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with whipping cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and allow the tart to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the tart only to a wire rack to cool an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6.


Danielle said...

This tart looks really beautiful, what a way to showcase delicious juicy plums :) Your comment about being a Gentile cracked me up! I've had those moments of premature nostalgia too, which, when I become aware of it coming on, makes me even more sad!

Unknown said...

Your tart looks divine! LOVE the use of cornmeal in it. Baking Illustrated is a great book!

Dianne said...

Thank you, ladies, for the nice comments!

Danielle, I totally get what you're saying, how you get sad when the premature nostalgia starts. I feel the same way!

Nina, the cornmeal really makes the dish, in my opinion. But then again, I am a huge fan of crunchy texture.