Do you remember that Meyer Lemon Sabayon Tart a couple of weeks ago? Of course you do. Well, to make that, you make enough Pâte Sucrée (sweet pastry crusts) for two tarts. We placed one of them in the freezer for later, knowing that we’d find a use for it. Well, we took it out on Tuesday to thaw, hoping for inspiration. And, inspiration struck. We decided to make Thomas Keller’s Plum Tart from Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel, after looking at the weekly grocery ads and noticing that plums were on sale. “Wait,” you say, “you titled this post wrong.”
Nope! It’s correct, because, when we went to the store, the plums were from Chile — not that we’re surprised, this time of year — and hard as rocks — again not surprised, they are, after all, at the grocery store. So, we backed off on the plum tart. We looked at the pears — hard as rocks, that’s out. But, we did find raspberries, from the US that looked okay, so raspberry tart it is.
We actually purchased our almond flour rather than grinding it ourselves. While we can grind blanched almonds in a food processor (and we have), we looked at the almond flour in the store, and noted that it’s more finely ground than we can make at home. We wanted to be sure we had a smooth almond cream, so we purchased it. We used raspberries, but, if you want to go back to the original Thomas Keller recipe, use about 6 plums sliced 1/8 inch thick. For the egg: it seems like an odd amount, it’s just about a medium-size egg. Use that if you have one, or you can do as we did. We selected the smallest egg from our carton of large eggs, cracked it into a bowl on the scale, and scooped out some of the whites until we got down to the right amount. Or you could just use one egg of whatever size you have. It’ll be fine.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Move a rack to the center of the oven for even baking.
Sift. Yes, break out the sifter to break up the almond flour, which clumps. With a scale, it’s not so bad; otherwise, do the best you can and measure the almond flour and flour into the sifter and sift away. You’ll have to break up some lumps with your fingers, and, if your almond flour is like ours, there will be a few bits of almonds that are too big to sift through. Just eat those few bits. Once you’ve sifted the mixture together, set it aside for now.
Cream butter. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth and glossy, somewhat reminiscent of mayonnaise. If your butter is room temperature, this may take only 30 seconds, but, if your butter is cold, it will take longer. In fact, you might want to wait until the butter warms up a bit before trying again.
Add sugar. The original recipe called for sifting the powdered sugar, but we didn’t do that. You can, but we don’t think it’s necessary. Add the powdered sugar to the butter, and start beating it in. Start with the mixer on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, and increasing to medium-high speed. After about 2 minutes, the mixture should be light and fluffy.
Add almond mixture. Pour in the almond mixer and mix on low until it’s incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
Add egg. Add the egg and beat on low until the almond cream mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and the bottom, since dry ingredients can get stuck there. Now just let everything sit while you roll out the crust.
Roll out crust. Place the pâte sucrée on a lightly floured work surface, dust with a bit of flour, and roll into about a 10-inch circle. Transfer to a tart pan and press into the edges. We like to fold some of the excess crust over along the sides of the pan to make a thicker edge of crust. Once in place, trim the excess with a knife to make a smooth, nice-looking edge.
Fill crust. Scrape the almond cream into the crust and spread smooth with a spatula. Here’s another place where we changed the method. The original recipe said to pipe the filling into a nice layer in the crust. That’s probably wise if you’re making, say, a dozen of these babies, but, for one, we just made the layer as smooth as we could. It came about halfway up the sides of the crust.
Place raspberries. Working from the outside in, place raspberries in concentric circles on the tart, pressing them in slightly. Pack them in tightly, as they’ll shrink during baking, and the almond cream will puff up.
Bake. Place the tart on a baking sheet (two-piece tart pans will leak butter) and bake until the crust is browned and the almond pastry cream is golden in spots, 45 to 55 minutes.
Cool. Let the tart cool completely before removing it (thank goodness for the two-piece tart pan!) from the tart pan and placing on plate for showing off and serving.
This wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. It’s good, don’t get us wrong; but, we expected a firmer, creamier almond filling, something like an almond pastry cream or thick pudding. Something smooth and creamy. Instead, this is textured from the almond flour. Not gritty, just a subtle texture. We will also say that the almond flavor is rather subtle, and, if you’re looking for a stronger almond flavor, add, perhaps, 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. We will say that this is one of the easier dessert recipes from Thomas Keller, so try scratchin’ it out and see if you agree with the four stars.