This past week, the mother-in-law landed.

Since her arrival, there has been a tremendous amount of food on the counter, in the fridge and at the table. Borscht, chocolate cake, grilled fish, pita, quiche, falafel, zucchini casserole, mamaliga (aka polenta), banana bread, fritters, and an absurd amount of produce, which all lead to the never ending story of fridge rearranging. I could barely close the refrigerator door all week. It just kept multiplying.

Before we go any further, let me be quite clear. This is definitely not a bad thing.

However, the wayward fruit hidden at the back of the fridge didn’t get much love. Yes, they were plucked from a market vendor at their prime and should have been enjoyed right away, but have since been neglected and almost forgotten due to lack of visibility.

As the week wore on, the food they were hiding behind was gradually eaten and eventually disappeared…into my stomach! (Cue the cymbal.)

Point is, I was confronted by a batch of plums and grapes that were, quite frankly, pissed. They only had a few days left, and they didn’t want to spend them decomposing in refrigerator purgatory next to a jar of pickles.

I heard them loud and clear.

Jam certainly wouldn’t be good enough to prevent the flogging I knew was coming. I definitely didn’t want them to come back and haunt me in the middle of the night like the ghost of produce past.

It was time for an old standby.

Everybody knows the way to make true amends is with butter. Butter got me into college, helped me avoid several speeding tickets and could possibly bring peace to the Middle East. Well, not really, but it certainly can put a smile on your face.

If I were a plum, I’d prefer to go down encased in buttery pastry and crumble versus dying a slow death in the back of an over-filled fridge.

And thus it happened. The plums and grapes were tossed with lemon zest and sugar, then loaded into a buttery pastry crust topped with big chunks of buttery crumble, and finally baked until bubbly and gooey.

They forgave me.

Plum and Grape Crumble Tart Recipe

Tart Shell
1 c (125 g) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
4 1/4 tbsp (63 g) cold, unsalted butter
2 1/4 tbsp (33 ml) cold water

Crumble
3/4 c (90 g) all purpose flour
1/3 c (70 g) sugar
6 tbsp (60 g) cold and cubed, unsalted butter

Filling
1/2 c (100 g) sugar
1/3 c (40 g) all purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon
4 c (650 g) plums (cut into big chunks) and seedless purple grapes (I recommend a 2:1 plum to grape ratio)

For the tart shell

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

Add the cold butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour to break it up until there are no more large pieces of butter and mixture resembles small peas. A mixer will work too, but, as I always say, the crust will be flakier if you use your fingers. Takes but a moment.

Add most, but not all, of the water. Gently mix to distribute the water. You will only need to add enough water for the dough to come together when pressed. As humidity differs depending on where you are in the world, you may need less or more water.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Chill for 1 hour.

Grease a 8″ tart pan.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick in the approximate shape of your tart pan. Gently shape the dough into the tart shell without stretching it. Trim off most of the excess dough, but not all. Return to fridge and chill for 15m.

Remove tart shell. With a paring knife, trim the remaining excess dough so that the edge of the dough is flush with the tart pan/shell/ring. Gently press along the inside wall of the tart, slowly moving around the edge of the tart. This will push a small amount of the dough up above the rim. Chill for 5 more minutes.

For the crumble

While your dough is chilling (before you roll it out), make the crumble topping. Combine the flour, sugar and butter in a large bowl. Again, using your fingers, rub the butter into the sugar and flour until the mixture resembles a mixture of large and small crumbs, but no large pieces of butter remain. Keep in the freezer (preferably) or the fridge until you are ready to assemble tart.

For the filling

While your tart shell is chilling for the last 5 minutes, prepare the filling. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and zest. Add the fruit and toss until fruit is thoroughly coated. I don’t mix the fruit with the sugar and flour in advance. Doing this draws out the juices creating a soggy tart shell. GROSS. It only takes 30 seconds to throw together, so wait until the last minute.

For the assembly

Preheat your oven to 350F (180C).

Remove tart shell from fridge and place on a parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet (the tart will likely bubble over so this prevents molten fruit filling from charring on the bottom of your oven). Pour in the filling and spread it evenly around the tart shell. Top with the crumble. Bake tart for 1 hour, until bubbly and crumble is golden.

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