Swiss cooking has its roots in the art of using simple, basic resources well. Raclette and cheese fondue, for example, originated in the Alpine hut as plain, good fare for herders. As it is not by nature a fancy cuisine, its success depends upon quality ingredients and care.
A Swiss plum tart illustrates the point. You need only plums, pastry, and a little sugar to make one. There is no exacting set of instructions to follow. The result is lovely to look at and delicious to eat.
Furthermore, a Swiss plum tart is versatile. It does not have to be a dessert. In fact, paired with cheese in some form, plum tart is best served for supper or brunch. (It is included in the Occasional Menu section: Brunch with Plums, Apricots and little Cheese Tarts.)
The Swiss fall into two camps on the issue of including custard in a plum tart. Some like it poured over the fruit and baked–others not. This version is without. Swiss plum tart is about the fruit and is more distinguished unvarnished….A very obliging Swiss housewife who used to live not far from Basel, habitually made two tarts–one with and one without–and that way, pleased everybody.
See the diplomatickitchen’s update to this recipe here— describing another technique for baking a Swiss Plum Tart or any Swiss fruit tart which will ensure that the tart’s crust crisps and does not become soggy as the fruit cooks and releases its juices. This new method is illustrated using fresh apricots in place of plums. Knowing how to make one Swiss fruit tart means that you actually know how to make many different ones. It is simply a matter of substituting one fruit for another.
- Puff pastry (Packaged puff pastry works very well; rounds of it are available some places. If you are using narrow, rectangular sheets, place two together, slightly overlapping and roll together to form a single sheet of pastry.)
- Plums, quetsch are traditional, but not mandatory–and using other varieties will make a good tart, too. For this 14 ” round tart, I used about 20 quetsch plums.
- Butter for greasing the baking sheet
- Any size baking sheet with a rim. The tart in the photo was baked in a Lodge cast iron pizza pan.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter the baking sheet well, including the rim. If you are using a round of pastry, roll it out a bit so that you can roll in the edges of pastry to form a rim around the fruit. If your pastry sheets are rectangular, use two. Place them together, slightly overlapping and roll out into a single rectangle. There is no exact science to this. The shape does not even have to be uniform, but there does need to a a raised edge all around the rolled-out sheet because, just as with pies, the juices sometimes bubble and run over the edge. For the same reason, you may want to put the tart pan on a sheet of foil while you bake it:
2. Cut the plums in half, remove the pits and cut each half in slices:
3. Arrange the slices on the pastry, overlapping them in concentric circles for a round tart. For a rectangular tart, overlap the fruit in rows up and down the length of the sheet. (It is easiest to form rows up and down the short length of the pastry. Alternating the direction of the rows looks nice.):
4. Sprinkle the plums with a little sugar. (The tart is served with sugar on the side, so there is no need to get the sweetness exactly right before baking.):
5. Bake at 425 F for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the pastry is brown and crisp. Let the tart cool before cutting it or transferring it to a board or plate for serving:
6. Serve with sugar on the side. Some like their tart less sweet than others–especially if this is being served for brunch or supper. (See the menu suggestion under Occasional Menus: Brunch with Plums, Apricots and little Cheese Tarts.):
A Note: If you do make a Swiss plum tart for brunch, a glass of Champagne goes very well with it.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011