This week was the first one that really, truly felt like fall was rolling into the neighborhood. I was thrilled. I put socks and sweatshirts on my kids for the first time in months, poured myself a second cup of coffee, and decided to spend the afternoon baking.
I knew I wanted to make Ina Garten’s Italian Plum Tart, but then I got distracted by a Stone Fruit Tea Cake. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. In an effort to leave no stone fruit unturned, I simply decided to make both. More butter and sugar? Sign me up. That, and I still had one 30-pound box of Italian Prunes/Plums to put to good use.
After they cooled, I slid both desserts in front of my rigorous testing committee. The verdict? Tie. Both were a delicious combination of flavors and textures. Both were simple, using seasonal fruit and pantry staples. Both will be making future appearances in my kitchen. Neither will last long.
First up, Italian Plum Tart.
Tarts get a bad rap. They come across as fussy and fragile, requiring special techniques and pans. Ina Garten’s version is the opposite. It uses basic ingredients, which I simplified even further, and is baked in a simple springform pan. The only other changes I made were to bump up the amount of fruit and decrease the amount of sugar.
Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it makes one tasty early fall dessert. Although I would easily bake this for a brunch; change the name to coffee cake and anything goes.
Italian Plum Tart
Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe
1 pound Italian prune plums, quartered and pitted
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/3 cups sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit), divided
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1 T. cold water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a sheet pan.
- Place the plums, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and remaining 1 cup of sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until it forms small, dry crumbs.
- Add the water and continue to beat for about 30 seconds, until the mixture forms large, moist crumbs. Set aside 3/4 cup of the crumb mixture and pour the rest into the springform pan.
- With floured hands, lightly pat the dough evenly in the bottom of the pan and 1 inch up the sides.
- Arrange the plums in a single layer on the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly on top. Bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and serve warm or at room temperature.
This delicious Stone Fruit Tea Cake comes from Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. If you enjoy baking with seasonal fruits (or want to start), you need to add this cookbook to your shelf. It is excellent.
I combined coarsely chopped frozen plums and peaches for this dessert. The thin layer of fruit is surrounded by slightly sweet cake, soft on the bottom and crunchy on the top. Oh yeah.
Stone Fruit Tea Cake
Barely adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. fine sea salt
1 c. sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 T. vanilla extract
3 c. coarsely chopped mixed stone fruit, fresh or frozen
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until smooth dough forms. Wrap the wet, sticky dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper, flatten into a 1-inch thick disk, and freeze for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375. Butter a shallow 10 inch round baking pan, springform pan, or tart pan. Divide the dough into two equal portions and pat one portion evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan with wet or floured fingers. Spread the fruit over the dough. Break the remainder of the dough into tablespoon-size pieces and distribute atop the fruit, then sprinkle 1 T. of sugar over the dessert.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes (will take slightly longer if using frozen fruit), or until lightly golden and firm. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Note: This cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can also wrap and freeze the unbaked dough for up to 3 months. You can also wrap and freeze a whole, unbaked cake with fruit for 1 month.
A springform pan is a baker’s staple. This set of Norpro Nonstick Springform set of three includes a 9 inch, 10 inch and 10.5 inch size. Perfect for cheesecakes, tarts and more.
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