I’m writing this from my very favorite place on earth. It is pure heaven to be back in Italy where everything is reassuringly unchanged. I slip so easily into the daily routine of morning visits to Gaiole to stock up on supplies; succulent meat from Vincenzo, the butcher and a replenishment of fresh fruit from Angiolo, the green grocer before heading back to a lazy day of reading on the wall before preparing dinner.
Banished from the wall for a few hours due to a torrential downpour, I decided to try my hand at Popina’s plum tart that is usually Ben’s domain. He started making it a few years ago and it looks and tastes so impressive that I assumed it was beyond my capabilities. Guided by Ben’s husband Charlie, an expert baker, the tart was in the oven in no time at all and our sweet toothed guests were finally given something to satisfy their cravings. I can’t recommend Popina’s Book of Baking highly enough for novices to experts alike.
Popina’s Plum Tart
Adapted from Popina Book of Baking
8.8 ounces plain flour
4.4 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3 ounces granulated sugar
1.6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
3.2 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3.2 ounces plain flour
A selection of plums (about 15)
3 tablespoons marmalade
2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 325°F
Make the Shortcrust pastry:
1. Put the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor and blitz until you get crumbs.
2. Add the egg and blend again until the ingredients form a ball of dough.
3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in the fridge while you do the next steps.
Make the sponge dough:
1. With an electric whisk, blend the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. Add the egg and baking powder and whisk to combine.
3. Gently fold in the flour by hand until you get a smooth paste.
Make the tart:
1. Butter a 9″ fluted tart pan, preferably loose based.
2. Roll out the shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface and line the tart pan. You can also cheat like I did and put the ball of dough directly into the pan and use the palm of your hands to distribute evenly and then your fingers to fill the sides.
3. Trim any excess dough from the edges.
4. Spoon the sponge dough into the tart shell and spread in an even layer.
5. Scatter the plums around the tart.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. The sponge dough will rise around the fruit and turn a golden brown.
7. Leave the pie to cool and heat the marmalade in a small pan with the water.
8. Sieve the marmalade and brush over the tart before serving.