Just like that, it's the end of September again. For all the time I've spent outside these past few months - sitting in the garden, hiding in the woods, rummaging through my parents' overgrown vegetable patch - I've been strangely oblivious to the changing of the seasons. The last thing that really registered with me was coming home to plum and fig trees filled with ripe fruit at the end of June.
And then, this morning, I woke up to a world covered in the thickest blanket of fog.
As I rode my bike through that eerie landscape, all I wanted was to wrap myself in that fog for the rest of the day. Let it shroud and protect me, let it warm me with its chilly, humid, all-encompassing presence, and let it remind me that it's okay not to see things clearly from time to time. Let me believe that the world can still be beautiful regardless.
I know I'm not doing a very good job explaining this, but it's uncanny how much fall suits me. I wonder if it has anything to do with being a November baby, or if it's those beautiful memories, treasured and lost forever, of strolling through the dusk with a boy whose life was about to be cut short, but this season speaks to my nostalgic heart in a way nothing else does. I find comfort in it. I settle in it.
I don't know much these days, but I know that fall is my home.
On a completely different note, I wanted to let you know that Les Filles de Madeleine has been nominated for the first Belgian Food Blog Awards in the Best Food Photography and Best Baking & Sweets categories! While I haven't been very active on this space recently, I still consider it a haven and an integral part of both my personal and my professional life. I put my heart and soul into this blog - maybe a little too explicitly at times - and it warms my heart to see that acknowledged. So if you value this space as much as I do, or if you just really love my recipes and/or photography, please head on over to belgianfoodblogawards.be and vote for Les Filles de Madeleine in the aforementioned categories. Voting closes October 15th. Your help is greatly appreciated!
• The crust needs at least two hours to rest and cool, but overnight is better. The recipe makes enough for two tarts, but you can freeze half of it. It will keep for about 3 months in the freezer and can be used for fruit tarts, lemon tarts, or simple, buttery cookies ... When you're ready to use it, allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
• I used my favorite rectangular tart tin to make this tart, but you could just as easily use a round, loose-bottomed tart pan.
plum hazelnut frangipane tart
makes one 35 x 10 cm rectangular tart
for the crust
150 gr unsalted butter, room temperature
150 gr granulated sugar
1 large egg
300 gr all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
for the filling
165 g hazelnuts
165 g granulated sugar
50 g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
165 g unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
ca. 4 ripe plums, sliced
for the crust
1. On a clean work surface, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, knead butter until soft, then knead in the sugar, followed by the egg. You don't have to completely mix in the egg at this point. Add the flour and salt, all at once, and knead until you a have a smooth, homogeneous dough.
2. Divide the dough into two equal parts and shape each into a disc. Wrap each disc tightly in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. (You'll only need one disc for this recipe; the other can be frozen for later use.)
3. When ready to assemble the tart, grease a 35 x 10 cm rectangular, loose-bottomed tart tin. Remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for about 5 minutes.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, give the dough just a few kneads to soften it (without melting the butter) and shape it into a log. Roll dough into a rectangle large enough to line the tart tin, rotating, flipping and flouring the dough as needed. Roll dough onto your rolling pin and lift it over the tart tin. Use the back of your fingers to press in the corners and edges, remove excess dough, and use a fork to dock the bottom of the pastry. Store in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
for the filling
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Spread hazelnuts onto a baking tray and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until fragrant and skins are starting to crack. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then rub hazelnuts into a clean dish towel to remove skins. It's okay if a few bits of skin remain. Let cool completely.
3. In a food processor, process cooled hazelnuts until finely ground, but not yet oily. In a medium bowl, whisk together ground hazelnuts and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium high until smooth. Alternatingly, add the hazelnut-sugar mixture and the eggs, starting and ending with the dry ingredients and beating well after each addition. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the flour mixture, beating until just combined and smooth.
5. Spread hazelnut frangipane into the prepared tart shell and arrange plum slices on top. Bake at 180°C for 35-45 minutes, until the frangipane is puffed and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Let cool completely, and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.