It’s a very tasty plum tart. Buttery, jammy yet still light. We got the recipe from a late 20th century Louisville Courier-Journal clipping (the back side of the undated article talks about Seinfeld leading the ratings so we know it had to have been published somewhere in the 1989 to 1998 time frame). And Michelle’s mother’s handwritten note marked it as a Camille Glenn recipe. Indeed, the “Classic Plum Tart” calls for “cognac vanilla,” a signature Glenn ingredient.
And yet, as we looked for other references around the Internet, we found no mention of Glenn but only site after site citing Marian Burros and her Plum Torte, the “most-requested recipe in the New York Times archives.” Further digging revealed that Burros herself gives credit to friend Lois Levine, who she said “brought this recipe, originally called Fruit Torte, to [The] Elegant but Easy [Cookbook], and its appeal comes from its lovely old-fashioned flavor and its speed of preparation.”
We’re not here to dispute Michelle’s mother’s citation, though there is a family history of misremembering things. It doesn’t really matter who came up with the idea. What matters is this cake falls into Michelle’s category of “friggin’ delicious,” and it’s quick and easy to make. (“Elegant but easy,”
Glenn Barros Levine might say.)
Glenn’s Courier-Journal recipe is basically identical to Burros’ Times one, except the Southern version is a bit sweeter and calls for pouring cream over the finished dish. We skipped the “pitcher of unwhipped heavy cream” that Glenn’s recipe references, though we did find a bit of sweetened whipped cream and crème fraîche a delightful bonus.
Feel free to use the version below, or don’t be the first to request a very similar version from the NYT archives. As you enjoy your tart/torte, you can credit whomever you like.
CLASSIC PLUM TART
(adapted from a Camille Glenn recipe)
- 1/2 c. (4 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 t. vanilla extract or cognac vanilla
- 8 to 10 plums, cut in half & pitted (small purple prune plums are best)
- 3 TB sugar + 1 t. cinnamon for topping
- 1/2 to 1 pint heavy cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream/crème fraîche
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly butter a 9″ springform pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla beat until creamy and not the least bit granular.
Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Sprinkle into the butter/egg mixture. Blend lightly but thoroughly.
Spoon batter into springform pan. Place plum halves skin-side up evenly over butter. Sprinkle with the flavored sugar.
Bake on the middle shelf of the hot oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool a bit and serve with a pitcher of unwhipped heavy cream or whipped cream/crème fraîche.