It’s Easter! It’s spring! No wait, autumn! Uhm what?

Happy Easter!   I must admit that I haven’t really been feeling particularly Easter-y this year.  As I’m not religious, Easter doesn’t have any particular significance to me, but I always associate it with spring.  If it’s Easter, then it means that spring is definitely here, or very nearly on its way.  Soon there will be super-cute (and delicious) lambs in the fields, ducklings in the ponds and daffodils in the parks.  Except it’s not spring here, it’s autumn.  Daylight Savings time has ended, the leaves are starting to change colour and fall from the trees, and it’s getting noticeably cooler at night.  That said, we seem to be having an Indian summer – most days are still warm and sunny, and everybody is still in shorts and skirts (one of the technicians told me the other day that by April she’s usually in jeans and boots) – so I can’t complain too much.  Confusingly, the Easter cards and decorations in the shops here are all spring-themed – little bunnies, chicks, daffodils.  New Zealand is, of course, famous for its sheep, but I can’t share any super-cute lamb photos since there aren’t any about.  I can, however, offer you a slightly fuzzy photo of some baby sharks that I took the other day when we delivered the eagle rays that I’ll be using for my MSc research to Kelly Tarlton’s (Auckland’s aquarium).  They let us go around the aquarium afterwards (it’s a serious business being a marine biologist…), so I only had my phone with me and apparently it’s not great at taking aquarium photos.  Everybody say awwwwww:

Aside from Jesus and cute baby animals, the other big thing about Easter is chocolate eggs (at least in the UK and it seems here in NZ, too).  Now I think I’m probably in the minority, but I’m really not a fan of this whole chocolate egg thing.  I’m not that much of a chocolate person to start with – I quite like (good) chocolate in things (like cake, brownies, etc.), but I don’t tend to eat chocolate on its own, and I certainly don’t enjoy cheap, bad quality chocolate on its own, whether in the shape of an egg or not.  They make me feel sick.  And I don’t really see the point of that.  I know that it stems from having given up rich foods for lent, but after 40 days of voluntary privation, surely you’d want to eat something decent and truly delicious?  Actually, the complete commercialisation of Easter really annoys me – and as I’ve already said, I’m not even religious.  Anyway, before this turns into a full-blown rant, I’ll move on…

I’d only planned on briefly mentioning my confusion over spring-themed Easter cards in autumn and the baby sharks before getting to the main point of this post: a plum and almond tart.  450 words into the post, I’ve only just mentioned it.  Woops.  Clearly being a post-grad has done nothing to help me write more concisely and keep to the point…  Despite not celebrating it, I felt a bit odd letting Easter slip by unmentioned.  In my family, it has always been an occasion that involved good food (ok, not so much if my grandma was cooking, but whenever my mum was in charge, everything was delicious).  Since it’s autumn, lamb is obviously not on the menu today for me, but it just felt so weird posting a recipe with butternut squash or venison for Easter.  So I thought I’d go for a dessert (you know, for a change).

Something chocolate-y would have been the obvious choice, but it just feels too warm outside for chocolate.  I want to eat fruit!  I was going to go down the apples and pears route, since they are very much in season at the moment, but then I got distracted by what must be the very last plums of the season.  As soon as I saw them, I knew exactly what I was going to make: plum and almond tart.  I adore tarts (har har har, etc.) – they’re so basic to make that it’s difficult to go wrong.  And their simplicity is what makes them so delicious.  I would almost always pick a fruit tart over any other kind of dessert (except perhaps crème brûlée).  This tart is no exception.  Pastry.  Sugar.  Ground almonds.  Plums.  A bit more sugar.  Oven.  Boom, done.  Simple as (good Kiwi expression that – though simple as what, I have no idea).  Oh and I threw a few slivered almonds on top, too, just for effect.  The plums turn all juicy and delicious in the oven, the ground almonds soak up any overflowing juices, and the sugar adds just the perfect balance of sweetness.  This would make a perfect end to a huge meal, or just an afternoon snack.  It’s a little difficult not to make a bit of a mess of the plums when serving the tart, but it’s so delicious that you’ll quickly be forgiven!

Plum & almond tart

Serves 6-8
Adapted from Le Larousse des desserts

The amount of plums required obviously depends on the size of the plums and the size of the tart tin that you’re using, but as a rough guide, I used a dozen medium-large plums.  This tart is best eaten the same day that it is made as the pastry will start to go a little soft if left out for too long.  Add more sugar if you are using particularly tart plums.

Ingredients

Tart pastry (click for recipe – it’ll make twice as much as you need)
About 900g of plums
80g light brown sugar
20g ground almonds
Handful slivered or flaked almonds

Directions

1.  Butter a 24 cm fluted tart tin and dust with flour.  Roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 4mm and line the tart tin with it.  Trim the edges and prick the pastry with a fork.  Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins.  Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

2.  Meanwhile, cut all the plums in half and remove the stone.  Set aside.

3.  Line the pastry case with a sheet of baking paper and spread baking beans evenly over the paper.  Blind-bake the pastry for 10 mins.

4.  Remove from the oven, remove the baking beans and baking paper, and sprinkle the base of the pastry case evenly with the ground almonds and about 20g of the sugar.  Add the plums cut side up (so the round bit is against the pastry case), as tightly packed as possible.  Sprinkle with about 40g of the sugar and bake for 15 mins.

5.  Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top of the plums and bake a further 10-15 mins (the plums should bake a total of 25-30 mins).

6.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with the remaining sugar just before serving.

Enjoy!

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14 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sharks, Sweet Foods

14 responses to “It’s Easter! It’s spring! No wait, autumn! Uhm what?

  1. That tart looks so pretty. The plums are so deeply red. Did they taste incredible? I agree re the whole chocolate egg thing. Give me a Lindt bunny any day. Cute sharks by the way x

    • Mel

      Thanks! They did – quite tart, but perfectly balanced by a bit of sugar… Yummy! Ooo I do like the Lindt bunnies. Glad you like the sharks :)

  2. This is a fab post, thanks for the idea the tart looks beautiful and I bet it tastes amazing. We have been getting exited about easter and we love everything to do with baking. You might like our recipe for a bit of a traditional English roast lamb lovely for a Easter lunch.

    http://teaandsympathynewyork.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/easter-roast-lamb-dinner/

    enjoy.x

    • Mel

      Thanks! I’m sure that your recipe for traditional English roast lamb would be lovely for an Easter lunch… if lamb was in season here! I’ll have to wait until spring to try it out, but thanks for the suggestion.

      • Oh, very good point. What will be on your table today then? Happy easter!

      • Mel

        I was just on my own, so I didn’t do anything special (aside from the tart), but if I’d had people over, I’d probably have done something with venison. Most likely a stew, although it was so warm yesterday, perhaps I’d have done a salad with some carpaccio or something!

  3. looks de-lish! I can just imagine a gloop of M&S Madagascan vanilla cream on the side (slobber!). Unfortunately, me ‘n’ the girl are mainlining cheap chocolate eggs (the theory being that if I let her gorge then she won’t hoard them until stale like I used to do). Bleugh.

    • Mel

      Thanks!! Ice-cream would definitely go well with the tart, especially on a hot day. Oh gosh, stale Easter eggs – yuk! Probably a good idea to try and get through them before that happens!

  4. I’d just like to say that I now want a baby shark quite badly. I went to buy Easter eggs the other day and the amount of trash out there is ridiculous. Bring on the proper food.

    • Mel

      Aren’t they just SO cute?! Loads better than a baby rabbit (though baby rabbits grow up to be delicious big rabbits…).
      Proper food all the way. I usually get given the trash eggs by my grandma… Thankfully not this year though!

      • Not sure the dog would agree with you on that, rabbits are currently flavour of the month (yes, entirely intended). She went nuts over bunnies last year though (including any on TV…).
        Yeah, if it’s more about the decoration on the box than the chocolate inside I’m just not interested.

      • Mel

        Basil used to be a big fan of rabbits, too. Or anything actually. I meant to look at though, rather than eat. Foodwise, rabbits are definitely better!
        Ya, or if it’s really crappy chocolate (like… Cadbury’s).

  5. Pingback: Last blueberries of the season? I’ll take 1kg please! | Sharky Oven Gloves

  6. Pingback: Sharky Oven Gloves turns two! | Sharky Oven Gloves

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