Reine Claude Tart
In Switzerland these pretty green plums are called by their French name, Reine Claude, after the Queen consort Claude of France, who ascended the throne in 1515, when she was just 15 years old. During her time at court, Anne Boleyn was a member of her household and served as her English translator (before she left to return to England and become the bride of Henry VIII, of course).
Although Claude suffered a variety of health problems throughout her life, such as scoliosis, and was often described as small and ugly, she was celebrated for her virtues, as shown in this passage from the French historian Brantôme:
I must speak about Madame Claude of France, who was very good and very charitable, and very sweet to everyone and never showed displeasure to anybody in her court or of her domains...
Queen Claude spent much of her marriage in a successive string of pregnancies and died, either from complications of childbirth, miscarriage, or simply exhaustion (or perhaps from her philandering husband's syphilis) at the young age of 24. But this dainty green plum, known in English as the greengage, was named in her honour.
Although the little plums are perhaps most delicious raw, they also go bad quickly, and if you have bought in bulk, this tart is a nice way to use up the overripe ones. It is relatively easy to make, but you could save additional time and energy by using pre-made tart dough rather than making your own. Unfortunately, the Reine Claudes don't keep their lovely colour when baked, but hopefully the tart will be gobbled up before you have a chance to feel sad about it.
For the pastry
This recipe for Kuchenteig or around 250 g of leftover or rolled-out tart dough.
For the filling
120 g ground almonds, toasted
120 g butter, softened
120 g sugar
75 g flour
400 g plums, pitted and halved
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4.
Roll out your pastry and press it into a rectangular fluted tart form (approx 35 x 12 cm / 14 x 4 inches). Keep in the freezer until needed.
Weigh out your ground almonds and toast them in the oven (you can do this as the oven is still heating up) until they turn golden, around 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs.
Whisk together the flour and cooled ground nuts, then stir this into the butter mixture. Spread onto the pastry base, then arrange the plums in an artful manner on top.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the plums have browned.
- I was lazy and used about 250 grams of Süsser Mürbeteig from Migros (they only seem to have the already rolled out variety online, but you can find the blocks to be rolled out in store).
- The filling goes well with all varieties of plums.