Thursday, 13 August 2015

Zwetschgendatschi

or, to put it more simply, plum tart.

This German speciality should be made with a type of plum (the 'zwetschgen' part of the recipe name) which is similar to a damson, but is often made with other varieties of plums, particularly if the cook doesn't live in Germany! The pastry is made from an enriched yeast dough, the plums are arranged neatly on top  and the whole thing is baked in a hot oven. What could be simpler?

I found many variations when trying to decide on a recipe - shortcrust pastry is an option, rather than yeast dough; a streusel topping can be added; some recipes sweeten the fruit before baking, some sprinkle on sugar afterwards; some recipes use breadcrumbs on the dough, before arranging the fruit, to soak up any excess fruit juice. In the end, I decided to be guided by the one recipe I had in my cookery books - this was a dairy-free Jewish recipe, but I adapted it to use dairy products.

The dough was made from a teaspoon of easy-bake yeast stirred into 250g plain flour. To this was added 1/2 egg, a tablespoon of honey, a pinch of salt, 50g melted butter and enough warm milk to make a soft but not sticky dough (I used about 100mls of the 125mls recommended in the recipe). After kneading for 10 minutes the dough was left, covered, to rise until doubled in size. The risen dough was knocked back and rolled out to about 1/2 cm in thickness. There should be enough dough to line a 25cm diameter, loose-bottomed tart case, but I wanted to use my new rectangular tart case, so was left with enough dough to also line a 15cm diameter cast iron skillet,

Quartered pitted plums were arranged in neat rows in the rectangular case and the tart was left to prove again for 20 minutes. Then the tart was baked at 190C for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the pastry was golden. As soon as the tart was out of the oven it was sprinkled with cinnamon flavoured sugar.

Before arranging the plums on the small round base, I rolled out 80g of marzipan to fit the case, and laid this on top of the dough. I also cut the plums into 1/8ths for this smaller tart - it helped get a tighter fit  of fruit in the small space. After the second proving, this was baked for the same time as the large tart and also sprinkled with cinnamon sugar while hot (4 tablespoons of caster sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon was enough for both tarts, with some left over).

I bought a kilo of plums and used roughly 600g for these two tarts. My recipe recommended 750g for one large 25cm tart.

The oblong tart was elegant in it's simplicity, and very tasty. The light sprinkling of sugar added enough sweetness to the plums, and I liked the way the plums held their shape; they were just cooked through but still looked fresh. The yeast dough pastry was light and made a nice change from shortcrust. Yeast dough could be considered  'healthier' too (or at least, less calorific) as it contains a much lower proportion of fat compared to pastry. I think I could have left the pastry a little thicker, and next time I will bake on a pre-heated baking sheet to try and get a crisper bottom.

The pastry was thicker on the small round tart, and this made it soft rather than crisp - reminiscent of eating a danish pastry. The sweetness of the marzipan, together with the almond flavour, made this tart much richer than the plainer one.

Both tarts are best eaten fresh as the sugar topping draws juices out of the fruit over time.

I didn't choose this recipe at random - this month's AlphaBakes challenge is the letter Z! This challenge is hosted alternately by Caroline, at Caroline Makes (who is the host this month), and Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker. The randomly chosen letter must be used as part of the name of the dish or as the start letter of a main ingredient - full rules here. I'm entering the oblong plum tart into the challenge; the round one isn't a traditional Zwetschgendatschi.

While thinking about the challenge I picked up several interesting recipes for various types of zucchini cake, so there might be a second entry this month, if I don't run out of time!


2 comments:

Alicia Foodycat said...

How absolutely divine. This definitely ticks all my boxes! And I'd have the leftovers for breakfast.

Caroline Muspratt said...

A great entry for Alphabakes with a difficult letter! I like the sound of the marzipan layer and the fact that it is lower in fat than regular pastry.