Plum & Almond Custard Tart

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An elegant and deceptively easy dessert. An almond pastry case with juicy plum jewels set in a delicious, smooth and creamy almond milk custard. Delicious on it’s own, or served with ice cream or stewed fruits.

I really do love and believe in eating seasonally, and this dessert is no exception. At this time of year, when the berry season has drawn to a close and the stoned fruits are beginning to end, I don’t think there is anything better than baked fruits. Not only does it bring out their sweetness and flavour, it smells as it bakes festive and fills you with warmth. What a perfect way to welcome to cooler seasons that are approaching!

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Plums and almonds are a classic combination; the sweet, nutty almonds provide a delicate base flavour to the dessert, so when you get a pop of bright, tart plum in your mouth nothing distracts you from the flavour. That said – the two flavours really work together. The nutty flavour gives depth to the plums, something particularly desirable when using up the last of the season’s fruits.

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I’m using one of my favourite pastry recipes for this – it originally comes from my Apple & Blueberry Frangipane Tart – but I chose it because it turns out light and short every time. It is also a very forgiving pastry. What I mean by that is if yours crumbles to pieces as you are trying to line the tin (and see my tips and tricks on lining a tin with pastry here!) you really don’t need to worry. Just using your fingers and the offcuts of pastry, you can make your pastry look almost perfect, and it really doesn’t affect the results. Now, that’s my kind of baking!

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Serves 6 – 8, makes 1 36x12cm tart. Takes 1 hour plus baking and cooling time. Note: The pastry needs to chill for a minimum of 2 hours before blind baking, but ideally is best chilled overnight.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet shortcrust pastry: This makes a generous amount of pastry – only about 1/2 will be needed for the tart. Freeze the remainder or keep refridgerated for up to 1 week.
  • 80g dairy free butter (I used Pure Sunflower)
  • 45g Cooken (look around the lard/ pastry section – Cooken is a pastry butter that is dairy free!)
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 30g ground almonds
  • Custard:
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg
  • 300ml almond milk
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 – 5 plums, halved and stone removed or other stoned fruit
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  1. Cream the butter, Cooken and sugar together in a food processor (If you haven’t got a food processor, use a wooden spoon to mix), then once mixed, add the egg.
  2. Once evenly mixed, add the flour and ground almonds and process until a ball of dough begins to form (Again – no food processor, do this with a wooden spoon). Don’t worry if not all the dough has gathered in the ball.
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  4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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  6. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. As it is heating, grease and line the tart tin with the pastry. Prick the base with a fork, line with grease proof paper and then fill with baking beans. Return to the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes. (Tip: see here for my hints and tips for lining a tin with pastry)
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until dry and just golden. Remove the baking paper and baking beans, and bake for another 3 minutes.
  8. Once baked, turn the oven down to 170 degrees, and leave the tart case at room temperature to cool whilst you make the custard.
  9. Make the custard. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together for a few minutes until light and airy. Add the almond milk and vanilla to a heavy based saucepan and set over a low heat.
  10. In another small bowl or mug, weight out the cornflour, and take 1 – 2 tbsp of the warming almond milk and mix with the cornflour until smooth. Pour into the eggs and sugar mix and whisk for a few seconds until smooth and evenly incorporated.
  11. Heat the almond milk until it almost comes to the boil (you should start to see small bubbles appearing around the edge of the pan), and then slowly pour into the egg mix whilst whisking all the time. Once fully mixed together, pour the custard back into the same saucepan, and set over a low heat.
  12. Whisking at all times, slowly let the custard come to the boil. Once it boils, turn the heat right down, and whisk madly for 1 minute (Tip: don’t be worried about it curdling and skip this step! You need to do this to ‘cook out’ the cornflour, and the eggs should be cooked enough by this point to avoid curdling)
  13. Tip most of the custard into the tart tin so it is roughly 3/4s full. Place the plum halves into the custard (I alternated with one up, one down).
  14. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the custard is almost set (it should still wobble slightly) and the plums are nice and juicy.
  15. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack after removing it from the tin. Leave to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before eating.
  16. Right before serving, heat the honey up with 1 tsp of water, and once warm and running, brush over the custard and plums for an attractive, shiny finish.
  17. Serve on it’s own, with more fruit, or with ice cream.

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