Fall baking is so darn satisfying, don’t you think? We can say goodbye to summer heat and think about turning on the oven again. Bonus: The house gets filled with all the warm fragrances of Fall, like cinnamon, allspice and cloves. This week I spied a box of Italian plums at one of my local farmers market stands and it brought back fond memories of weekly trips to the farmers market when the San Francisco Bay Area was home. These little beauties were commonly found in late summer and early fall.
The Empress plum, commonly known as Italian “prune” plums, is really quite a perfect fruit for baking. Their amber color marries well with a red-fleshed variety and its firmer shape stands up to a hot oven. This dessert is SO easy to put together. Use a 9 or 10-inch tart pan or springform pan, with removable bottom. This is a one-bowl wonder, mixed by hand or with a Kitchen Aid standing mixer.
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (I used dark brown organic sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated orange rind (use a microplane with tiny holes)
12 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 Italian plums
3 red plums
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange rack in middle of oven.
Rinse and dry fruit. Cut plums into quarters and set aside.
Place first 7 ingredients in work bowl of standing mixer. Gently mix on low to incorporate all ingredients. Add butter and mix on medium speed until a dark amber crumbly, loose mixture forms and holds together when pressed.
Add 2 cups of the mixture to the tart pan and press into bottom and up the sides even with the top edge. Arrange plum sections in desired pattern. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top.
Place tart pan on baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes or until crumb topping is golden and fruit is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool slightly before slicing.
Image: Barb Magee