Shortly after Van Riebeeck’s landing, large numbers of fruit trees were planted and soon housewives at the Cape became well known for their fruit tarts delicately layered with seasonal fruit on top of a pastry base. After the settlement of the French Huguenots, fruit trees were in abundance in the then Olifantshoek area (today, the Franschhoek Valley). Almonds and even almond flour were everyday ingredients and frangipane was regularly used in all kinds of pastries. Serving sweet wine (called soetsopies) was a popular tradition and liqueurs were often made by flavouring distilled wine with herbs, spices, flower and seasonal fruit.
Chef Vicky Gurovich shares a recipe for a delightful plum-and-cherry tart that, with its buttery pastry, sweet frangipane and hints of fruity tartness, will be the highlight of any festive meal.
Almond sweet pastry
120 g butter (soft)
90 g icing sugar
15 g ground almonds
60 g cake-flour
180 g cake-flour
Cream the butter, icing sugar, ground almonds and cake flour together.
Add the egg and incorporate well.
Add the cake-flour and mix until a dough is formed.
Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
100 g butter (room temperature)
100 g castor sugar
100 g ground almonds
10 g cake-flour
5 ml mixed spice
Cream the butter and sugar together well until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time making sure to incorporate each egg very well before adding the next one.
Add the almonds, cake-flour and mixed spice and mix well.
8 – 12 red plums (depending on the size of the tart shell), halved, pips removed
100 g pitted cherries
100 ml cinnamon-and-vanilla sugar stock
Preheat a tray in the oven at 220 °C, toss the plums in half of the sugar stock, remove the tray from the oven and place the plums, flesh side down, on the hot tray and place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove plums from the tray and place onto silicone paper immediately. Toss the cherries in the remainder of the syrup before placing in the tart. Reserve the syrup for glazing after baking.
Roll out the sweet pastry on a lightly floured surface to approximately 3 mm thick. Line a greased tart pan of your choice (loose bottomed is the best choice). Refrigerate lined pan for 10 minutes, then spread frangipani on the bottom of the tart shell approximately 1,5 cm deep. Place the roasted plums flesh side down onto the frangipani filling in the tart shell and place the cherries in the gaps.
Roll out the remaining sweet dough, cut into 2 cm strips and place over the plums in a lattice-work pattern. Brush with egg-wash and bake at 160 °C for 30 – 45 minutes until the tart is golden brown and the pastry at the bottom is cooked through.
Allow to cool before removing from tart ring or, alternatively, serve the tart in a ceramic tart dish if preferred.
Chef’s note: Serve with fresh cherries and vanilla chantilly. If you have the time, quenelle the chantilly and serve in a separate bowl – it is a cloud of deliciousness!
Wine recommendation: The Viognier-based La Motte Straw Wine offers the pleasant floral aromas of this variety as well as delightful sweet notes without being cloying. A perfect match to the frangipani and a beautiful golden shade in the glass.