German Country Plum Tart
Beautiful ripe plums form a sweet glazed topping for an unusual tart pastry. Sweet pastry dough is folded into yeast kuchen dough the way that butter is folded into puff pastry, giving a distinctive taste and texture to the pastry crust of the tart. When working with yeast, you want the water (and, in this case, milk) to be just warm to the touch: too cold and it will not react well; too hot and you kill the yeast.
- Sweet Pastry Dough
- Pinch of salt
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Egg Yolks - 3 large
- Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
- All-Purpose Flour - 1-1/2 cups, sifted
- Cold Unsalted butter - 1/2 cup
- Kuchen Dough
- Warm Water - 1/4 cup
- Warm milk - 2-1/4 cups
- Active Dry Yeast - 2 packets
- Sugar - 3/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, cut in small pieces and softened
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt
- All-Purpose Flour - 8 cups
- Cooking oil spray
- Dry vanilla cake crumbs - 1/2 cup
- Ground cinnamon - 2 tablespoons
- Sugar - ripe plums,
- Ripe plums - 24 to 30, depending on size
- Vanilla ice cream, or sweetened whipped cream (optional)
- Mint sprigs
To prepare the sweet pastry dough: Beat the salt, sugar, and egg yolks together in a bowl until foamy and doubled in volume using a wooden spoon. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour all at once and quickly combine with the egg mixture, using the same spoon. With your hands, pick up small handfulls of the flour mixture and rub it between your fingers to even out the texture, letting it spill back into the bowl, until the mixture is uniformly grainy. Put the flour mixture on a work surface. Soften the butter by rolling out with a rolling pin, pounding it with the rolling pin until it softens. Place the butter over the flour mixture and knead together just until they form a uniform dough. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside in the refrigerator.
To prepare the kuchen dough: Put the warm water and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle with the yeast and sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in the butter, lemon zest, and salt. Add the flour. Beat on medium speed with the dough hook or paddle attachment of the mixer until it forms a ball. Remove from the mixer and cover the bowl with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.
Spray two baking sheets lightly with cooking oil spray, then blot any excess. Sprinkle a large work surface with flour. Place the kuchen dough on the floured work surface and dust with flour. Punch down the dough, then roll out into a sheet. In a corner of the work surface, roll out the sweet pastry dough half as large. Place the sweet dough in the center of the kuchen dough and fold the sides over the sweet dough. Roll the combined dough into a large sheet, then fold in thirds. Turn 90 degrees. Roll out again and again fold into thirds. Turn 90 degrees. Roll out again. Cut in half, and press one half into each prepared baking sheet, making the dough about ½-inch thick. Press the edges up the sides of the pan and trim any excess dough. Lightly sprinkle each sheet of dough with cake crumbs to absorb the plum juices.
To prepare the filling: Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Slice each plum in half and remove the pit, then cut each half into thin slices, leaving the skin on and the slices attached at one end. Put in the sugar mixture and toss.
Cover the top of each tart with plum slices, spreading the slices and overlapping them slightly. Face all the slices in the same direction. Cover the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the tops of the tarts. Let rest 45 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the tarts for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the plums have softened and glazed, and the pastry is golden brown. Remove and let cool slightly.
To serve: While still a little warm, cut away the heavy borders and slice each tart into 12 pieces. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and mint sprigs.
Note: The dough may be shaped into individual round tart rolls instead of sheets; other fruit may be used to cover the dough.