Sorry, people who put him in the “crazy” camp: Steve was not doing exactly the same thing and expecting different results. After all, these smaller, redder plums were purchased from a different vendor. And this time Steve did not leave them sitting in a bowl on the counter. He left them sitting on the counter in a paper bag, which somehow rendered them invisible.
Fortunately, these plums ripened much less violently than their predecessors, with only a few having matured past pleasurable eating when Steve finally remembered the brown bag. He appealed to Michelle’s insatiable interest in dessert, singing the praises of this particular strain of plum (having sampled some on-the-brink beauties while sorting out the overripe ones). Michelle consulted her cookbooks, coming up with this “Plum crumble tart” from Nigel Slater’s Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard (that’s Tender: Vol. II for those of you in the U.K.), filling out the fruit with some blueberries we still had stashed in the freezer. Slater mentions in the recipe that he can’t decide if this is a “tart or a cake,” but Steve sees it more as a soft, delicate bar, able to be eaten out of hand once it’s set and cooled. It was a little lacking in sweet for Michelle’s taste, but she did enjoy it enough to consider the recipe another alternative for what will certainly be more fruit-salvaging situations.
PLUM & BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE TART
(adapted from Nigel Slater’s Ripe)2 c. + 1 TB all purpose flour 1/2 c. light brown sugar 1 c. ground almonds Pinch salt 1 c. cold butter, cut into small pieces 1 lb. plums, pitted and cut into halves or quarters 5 oz. blueberries 2-1/2 TB sugar 1/3 c. sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9″ square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper, with enough extra paper on 2 sides to be able to lift the tart out.
Mix flour, brown sugar, ground almonds and salt in a mixing bowl. Add butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers as you would for pie dough or biscuits. (Slater says to make it resemble “coarse fresh breadcrumbs.”)
Put 2/3 of the flour mixture atop the parchment in the baking pan. Push it down gently to form a base, making sure to push into the four corners. Firm it, without compacting.
Cover the base with the fruit. Sprinkle with sugar.
Mix the sliced almonds into the remaining flour mixture. Scatter over the fruit.
Bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool pan on a wire rack for a bit until the tart firms up. Lift out of the baking pan using the parchment ends, and let cool further.