Baking: Plum Ricotta Tart
This tart is a personal take on Rome’s classic crostata di ricotta e visciole (visciole being sour cherries), in which the fruits are turned into compote and then spooned onto a shell of sugar pastry and finally topped with a layer of sweetened ricotta. Here, I use wild plums (amoli) instead, as they tend to be more widely available where I live. Just like visciole, amoli have an infectious sour note that sharpens the edges and smooths the sweetness of the tart. The whole spelt pastry, for its part, though nontraditional, gives the tart a pleasantly rustic feel.
Wild Plum Ricotta Tart
For the plum compote:
500g wild plums (or other cooking plums), stoned
100g caster sugar
For the spelt sugar pastry:
250g whole spelt flour, sifted
125g cold butter, cubed
60g icing sugar, sifted
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
For the ricotta layer:
500g ricotta, drained
50g caster sugar
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
Put the plums in a saucepan along with the sugar and 60ml of water. Set them over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the plums are very tender. Press the compote through a sieve to remove the skins. Place the pulp back into the saucepan and reduce to a soft, jam-like texture over a medium heat, stirring occasionally but keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t stick and burn. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
To make the pastry, rub the cubed butter into the spelt flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and the eggs and work it all together into smooth ball of pastry. Wrap it in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour – it should be firm and cold as it’s easier to work with.
Meanwhile, make the ricotta layer by whisking together the ricotta with the eggs and sugar until fully combined.
Preheat the oven to 180°C | 350°F. Take the pastry out of the fridge. Roll two-thirds of the pastry out to a disc about 2 to 3mm thick and large enough to line your tart tin. Press it lightly to have it adhere to the bottom and edges of the tin, then trim any excess pastry falling off the edges. Pierce the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork. Spoon the plum compote on top and spread it even. Next, spoon the ricotta mixture to cover.
Roll out the rest of the dough into another disc and cut out strips to make a lattice over the top of the tart, securing the edges together by pressing gently. Set the tart on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the lattice is golden and the ricotta layer appears puffy and airy. Remove from the oven and let cool and set completely before cutting it. If you like, you can dust it with icing sugar before slicing it.