Rustic Plum Tart, Even Better With Ice Cream

In the sweltering summer months, I tend to stay away from baking because it heats up my already unbearably hot kitchen. But when my mom mentioned that one of her favorite summertime childhood memories is my safta’s plum tart, I couldn’t resist the call of the oven.
While my mom and her friends played in the Mediterranean sand down the street from her home, safta Elsa would pile mounds of gorgeous purple plums atop a rectangular sheet of dough that filled the entire baking sheet. According to my mom, the crust was perfectly flaky and the plums were tart and juicy. It was a simple summer treat when the ravenous kids came back from the beach hungry for something sweet and tangy. The dessert has lingered in her mind for many years. I had to attempt to replicate it.
I failed. The recipe I tried included cornmeal, creating a less flaky, heartier crust. You will also notice that the directions ask you to roll the dough out to a 14 inch round. Mine was less circular and more Antarctica in shape. For the life of me, I do not understand how the professionals make it look so easy to roll out a lovely round disk without a single crack. But it’s called “rustic” after all, so I went with it. Everyone loved it anyway, and on a recent hot summer night, we indulged in a slice of still-warm tart with a dollop or three of vanilla ice cream.
This recipe would also be fabulous in the fall, when Italian prune plums are abundant. I am imagining a pie filled with walnuts and topped with brown sugar. Can you smell it?
plumtartRustic Cornmeal Plum Tart
1 cup all purpose flour plus more for work surface
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 pounds red plums, quartered, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash) for top of crust
In a food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt several times to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces remaining. Add 2 tablespoons ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. (If needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Do not over-mix.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface; knead once or twice. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly flour top of dough to prevent sticking; roll out to a 14-inch round. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet.
Make the filling and bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together plums, sugar, and flour. Mound plum mixture in center of prepared crust. Fold border over fruit in a pleated pattern. Brush dough with egg wash.
Bake tart until crust is brown and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a rack; let cool 20 minutes. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.