Friday, June 13, 2014

Pflaumkuchen! Say that three times fast!

Plums.  Little gleaming rubies, amethysts and garnets shining from the basket, beckoning to you as you walk by.  Sweet, tart, juicy.  mmm...  I love when the plums come in, especially when they get just sweet enough to eat by themselves.  Again, if you want to cook with them, do as little as possible to the fruit itself, and let it shine all on its own.
Every year since I can remember, my family made Pflaumkuchen (German:  plum torte).  It's the simplest thing, but it evokes such strong memories for me.  I remember my mom chastising me for eating the plums as fast as she could slice them for the torte.  I make this at least twice every year myself, and it's the most wonderful thing.

It's really easy.  The whole recipe is a simple tart crust, topped with plums macerated with some sugar and cornstarch.  As it bakes, the juices of the plums seep down into the crust, turning it from a simple, sweet crust into a purple bed of heaven on which the fruit rests.  Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 lemon's zest

3-4 cups plums, pitted and sliced
1 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp confectioners' sugar

1. Mix the dry ingredients for the crust, then cut in the butter until it resembles very fine meal.  A food processor is great for this.  Add egg and lemon zest, work with fingers until very smooth.  Press the crust into a 9-inch pie plate or torte pan, pushing the crust up the edges by half an inch or so.  Flute the edges.  Chill the crust until you're ready to put it in the oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix the plums with the remaining ingredients, absorbing their juices, and allow to macerate for 10 minutes.  Stir once more, then arrange plum slices on the crust in a nice pattern.  Scrape the collected liquid remaining in the bowl over the top of the torte.  Bake 40 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown.  Allow to cool completely, then serve with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream.

Welcome to the family!

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