Thursday, September 13, 2012
Adventures with Plums pt.2
Well it seems, in the end and after much reading, I decided that following the 1590's route was the best way to go. So, after hours of cooking the plums down they eventually got thicker though sadly also lost much of their beautiful jewel tone. The flavour also became more prune-like than plum-like but that was to be expected considering the method of thickening them.
This also adds to the reason why the recipes specify sweetening and spicing them after you got your plum purée to their desired thickness. Now when initially I tasted them, the flavour was decidedly acid but this mellowed and later even took on some tannin like notes which would greatly effect how one would wish to sweeten and spice them. Even with the 1/2 cup of sugar with the teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger I added when I figured on no longer boiling them down (and obviously changing my mind afterwards), I still had to add a 1/2 cup of sugar once thick and then another 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger to taste it well enough (but being careful not to overpower the plums).
For the pastry, and because I wanted to play with shaping it a bit, I chose not to make it very short... that is, to approx. 2 generous cups of flour, I only used a scant 1/3 cup butter, 1 egg yolk and enough water just to make it into a workable paste. Unlike a very short paste, this doesn't stick all over the place and you can roll it as thin or as thick as you like and it holds shape fairly well... with this I built up a small round, shallow, tart shell by hand and another larger one in a squared shape. It is kind of like playing with a very stiff play-dough. Note, it has to be fairly stiff and well worked for it to hold together well and not break apart. I also find it necessary to keep my fingers just wet enough that they don't tug at the pastry too much and this allows me to manipulate it better while I shape up the walls.
-Sadly my camera ran out of juice in time for me not to take pictures of the process, however I have held the family off from eating the end product so I should be able to take pictures before it vanishes all together.