I love Italian prune plums. They're perfect for baking and freeze well, which means that when they ripen in a very short window in September you've got to hoard as many as you can get your hands on to use during the rest of the year. I was lucky enough to have a coworker with an Italian prune plum tree, and he invited me to pick as much as I wanted this past fall. (Edit: Lee would like me to point out that he and I harvested the plums together. I made him knock around the tree with a long apple-picker while I ran around picking up fallen plums. I probably made him carry the big heavy box of plums, too. Thanks for that, dear. :) )
These plums are sweet on their own, so I like to pair them with the savory herbal qualities of thyme. It's an interesting combination, but not so strange as to turn someone off from enjoying this delicious tart. This crust is tender and crumbly, the plums get slightly caramelized and gooey, and the top has just a hint of crunch. It's rich and sweet but light enough to be enjoyed after a filling meal.
Start by making your tart dough, adding a generous amount of thyme. Pat the crust into a tart pan and layer quartered plums in concentric circles.
Crumble topping over the top...
...and bake until golden and bubbly. Let cool as long as you can stand, and dig in!
Plum Thyme Tart
1 ½ C flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 T chopped fresh thyme
¼ C olive oil
¼ C vegetable oil
2 T milk
20 small Italian plums (1 1/2 to 2 lbs), pitted and quartered
¾ C sugar
2 T flour
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 T cold unsalted butter
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, stir together crust dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar, and thyme. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils and milk. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not overwork it. Pat the dough into the bottom of the pan, pushing it up the sides to the edge of the pan. Arrange the plums overlapping in concentric circles; they should fit snugly.
In a bowl, combine filling ingredients: sugar, flour, salt, thyme, and butter. Using your fingertips, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, with a mixture of fine granules and tiny pebbles. Sprinkle the pebbly butter mixture over the top of the tart. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until shiny, thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is a nut brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.