Friday, October 3, 2014
This season in Poland, my grandmother used to make plum cakes. They were made on different bases but always were absolutely delicious. The smell of the freshly baked cake filled her whole house. The most aromatic were those made on the yeast base. They took some time to be ready as the dough had to rise for hours in a warm kitchen. Then she put the plums on top and covered them with sugar crumbs.
Sometimes, she made plums cake on a delicate, butter, short crust. I make excellent tarts using my grandmother's recipe but, unfortunately, I have never mastered her yeast cake. So when the fall comes and I see plums I think about the plums cake I used to have in Poland.
Last week, I bought beautiful Italian plums and made a plum cake which is a combination of a pie and my grandmother's cake. On a typical, unsweetened pie crust I put plums coated on sugar and covered them with sugar crumbs. But just for extra color and taste I added to them some chopped Iranian pistachios. Iranian pistachios have much stronger green color than the regular ones which comes out beautifully in the presentation.
Plum Pie with Pistachio Crumbs
(For a 9-inch bottom oven-proof dish)
1 stick cold unsalted butter,
1/4 cup vegetable shortening,
1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour,
2 tbsp ice-cold water,
a pinch of salt,
1 tsp butter for the dish.
1/3 cup butter,
1/2 cup sugar,
1/3 cup flour,
1/3 cup green, slivered or chipped pistachios,
2 lb Italian (sometimes called Hungarian) plums,
2 tbsp sugar.
1. Place flour, salt, and butter cut into small pieces in a food processor. Pulse it until crumbles form. Add 2 tbsp cold water and run the engine quickly just until the moment when a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough with plastic foil and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
3. Grease the oven-proof dish with butter. Roll out the dough to a circle of about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer to the dish making inch-high walls.
4. Place the butter, sugar, and flour in a medium bowl and, working with fingers, make crumbs. Add chipped pistachios and mix.
5. Cut plums in halves, remove stones, and place in a medium bowl. Add 2 tbsp sugar and gently mix with plums so they are coated evenly.
6. Place the plums on top of the dough. Cover them with pistachio crumbs. Bake for about 50 minutes until the edges of the pie and the top are gold in color.
7. Cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.