In the brief time toward the end of summer when Italian prune plums are available, a kuchen is an excellent way to use the fleshy fruits. Originally grown in France, these plums have thin skins and are freestone, making them easy to pit. Set them on a dough that is mixed like a cake batter, then pressed with the fingertips into a tart pan with removable base. As the fruit bakes on top, the pieces soften to a jammy consistency, which contrasts nicely with the crisp crust. If you miss the prune plum season, use 8 regular-size plums, each cut into 12 wedges (but the pits will not be as easy to remove).
|Butter (for the pan)|
|½||teaspoon baking powder|
|½||cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature|
|⅔||cup granulated sugar|
|½||teaspoon vanilla extract|
|Flour (for sprinkling)|
|12||prune plums, halved lengthwise and pitted|
|2||tablespoons sliced almonds|
|½||cup orange marmalade|
|1||cup heavy cream, softly whipped with 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (for serving)|
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable base.
2. In a bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder.
3. In another bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla until blended. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Transfer the mixture to the tart pan and with lightly floured fingers, press evenly onto the bottom and sides of the pan.
4. Arrange the plums, cut sides up, in circles on top, placing them close together.
5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Leave the oven on.
6. Set the tart on a wire rack.
7. Meanwhile, in a small baking dish, toast the almonds, turning often, for 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned.
8. In a small saucepan, heat the marmalade, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Spoon the marmalade over the fruit and scatter the almonds on top. Serve with whipped cream. Jean Kressy