Zwetschkenwaie: Prune Plum Tart with Custard Filling
(See below for the apple variation.)
A Waie (Waehe in high German) is a classic Swiss fruit tart in which the fruit is covered with an uncooked custard cream before it is baked. The fruit cooks and softens and the custard sets (and the dough bakes through, too) while the tart is baking. Prune plums are a classic for this and tarts of this type are seen all over Switzerland as soon as the plums come into season in late summer. Apples, poached pears, apricots, rhubarb, and sour cherries all make their appearance in Waien (the plural) as the seasons progress. Back in the days when people ate more sweets than they do nowadays, a Waie might be the main course of the noon or evening meal, especially in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
When I recently had lunch at the simple outdoor Restaurant Remise in the countryside near Chur, the capital of Canton Graubuenden, the owner of the restaurant came to our table after the meal and stated that she had this tart for dessert. We happily agreed to have some and she asked – half or whole? Since we had eaten plenty, I asked for a half (thinking she meant a half portion). A few minutes later half of a 9-inch tart arrived before me on a plate! I was surprised and amused. Of course I had to do it justice – how could I insult our hosts by not finishing my piece of tart?
This is a really versatile recipe that I’m sure you’ll wind up using for many different kinds of fruit. See the variations at the end of the recipe for suggestions.
One 10-inch tart, about 8 large servings
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cold, and cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg
2 tablespoons cold water
20 medium (about 1 1/2 pounds) prune plums, rinsed, halved and pitted
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon Kirsch
One 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom
- For the dough, combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times to mix in finely. Add the egg and water and pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball. Invert the dough to a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Form the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Chill the dough for an hour or up to 2 days before continuing.
- When you are ready to bake the tart, set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, place it on a floured work surface and gently knead it until it is smooth and malleable. Flour the dough and roll the dough to a 12-inch disk. Fold the dough in half and transfer it to the pan, lining up the fold with the diameter of the pan. Unfold the dough into the pan and press it well into the bottom and side of the pan. Cut away the excess dough at the top edge of the pan with a bench scraper or the back of a knife.
- Arrange the plums, cut side up, in concentric circles in the prepared crust. Make 2 rows and fill in the center with a few more plum halves.
- Combine the sugar and flour in a medium mixing bowl and stir with a whisk to mix. Whisk in the cream, followed by the eggs and yolks, one at a time, whisking smooth after each addition. Whisk in the Kirsch.
- Pour the custard cram over the plums in the crust and carefully place the tart on the oven rack.
- Bake the tart for about 40 minutes, or until the pastry is baked through and golden and the custard cream had set and puffed slightly.
- Cool the tart on a rack and serve it at room temperature.
Serving: Remove the outside of the tart pan and slide the tart off the metal pan base onto a platter. You may need to loosen the tart from the pan base with a long thin spatula or knife, first. Serve a wedge of the tart with a little whipped cream, if you like.
Storage: Keep the tart at room temperature on the day it is baked. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers. Bring them to room temperature before serving again.
SWISS APPLE TART (OEPFELWAIE): Substitute apples for the prune plums. Peel, halve and core 4 Golden Delicious apples and cut through the halves at 1/4-inch intervals, across the core, keeping the slices together as half apples. Arrange the sliced apple halves in the crust, 7 around the inside edge and one on the center. Pour the custard cream over, as above and lightly sprinkle the filling with ground cinnamon. Bake as above.
SWISS PEAR TART (BIRNEWAIE): Substitute 8 lightly poached Bartlett pear halves (see the recipe for French Pear Slices on page 000 for instructions on poaching the pears) for the apples, above. Cut through the pear halves, as in the apples, above, but fan them out slightly, gently pressing from blossom to stem end. Use a metal spatula to transfer them to the tart crust, arranging them like the apples, above, with one in the center. Pour over the custard, sprinkle with cinnamon if you like, and bake as above.
SWISS APRICOT TART (APRIKOSENWAIE): Substitute apricot halves for the prune plum halves, above.
SWISS RHUBARB TART (RABARBERWAIE): Substitute 1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb, rinsed, leaves removes and discarded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks, for the plums, above. This tart looks best if you scatter the rhubarb haphazardly in the crust, rather than arranging it in neat rows.
SWISS SOUR CHERRY TART: (KIRSCHENWAIE): Substitute about 1 pound sour cherries, rinsed and pitted (about 2 cups), for the plums, above. Arrange the cherries in a single layer, but they don’t need to be in rows.