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August 24, 2021 4 Comments


Italian plums are in season so it’s time to take advantage of their flavor. 

Italian Plums recipes for tarts and tortes

Years ago, I read a story about a plum torte recipe created by Marian Burros that was published in the New York Times every September from 1983 until 1989. In 1989 they announced that this was the last time they were going to print the recipe. Readers were not amused!

The paper was flooded with angry letters: “Summer is leaving, fall is coming. That's what your annual recipe is all about. Don't be grumpy about it. We are not!” wrote a reader in Tarrytown, NY.

And so, to date, at this time of the year the New York Times publishes Marian Burros’s recipe to the delight of readers.

I love these seasonal plums and always anticipate their appearance at the farmers markets.

Friends came to dinner last weekend and since plums were at the market, I made a tart. This time I decided to use puff pastry as the crust. It works well and is easy to do—but I made a mistake. Puff pastry is crispy and delicious right out of the oven. Let it get to room temperature, as I did, and it becomes chewy and loses all the flakiness that makes it the part I love so much. 

Served right out of the oven with vanilla ice cream it is a delight. 

I’m including both the tart recipe and the famous tort for you to try. But take a moment and let me know what you think after you try them.

One more thing and this is the good part—you can use any seasonal fruit in both these recipes. Try apricots, any summer berry, or combination of them, peaches, nectarines, apples, and pears. You can even play with the spices you include such as nutmeg, ginger, cardamom; even herbs like thyme and rosemary will add a subtle flavor. These recipes are very adaptable and that’s what makes them fun.

Plum Tart Recipe


Serves: 6
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Preheat oven to 400º 


12 Italian plums, firm
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 sheet of puff pastry
½ cup heavy cream


  1. Slice the plums in half, remove the pits and slice again so they are quartered.
  2. Place all the plums into a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, and lemon juice; stir to combine well. Let the plums sit for 1 or 2 hours to release their juice. (Stir occasionally.)
  3. Cut a sheet of parchment paper the size of the baking sheet.
  4. On a floured surface roll out the puff pastry to between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick.
  5. Using a ruler cut out a 9” by 13” rectangle and place on the parchment paper.
  6. Using the rest of the dough and a ruler cut out 2 13” x 1” strips and 2 9” x 1” strips.
  7. With a kitchen brush spread the heavy cream 1” wide around the edge of the dough.
  8. Add the 13” strips on each of the long edges of the dough.  (Press down lightly.)
  9. Brush heavy cream on all 4 corners and add the remaining 9” strips overlapping the long strips. Press down lightly to seal.
  10. Refrigerate 30 minutes or more.
  11. Once the plums have released their juices, start laying the plums inside the outer strips next to each other in rows across the dough until the dough is completely covered. If there are extra plums you can cut each quarter in half and place them where there is space between the rows and spoon the juice over the plums.
  12. Brush all the visible dough with a coating of heavy cream to ensure it turns golden. Place in the hot oven.
  13. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the dough has puffed up and is golden brown.
  14. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Slice and place on individual plates with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
Photo by Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

By Marian Burros
From the New York Times
Serves: 8
Prep time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Preheat oven to: 350º

¾ to 1 cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
 Pinch of salt (optional)
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums
Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs and beat well.

  3. Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9, or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

  4. Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)


To Freeze, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag and seal.

Bon appetit! 


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4 Responses


September 03, 2021

Hi Alma, It was a surprise to me too, and not a good one. Glad it helped! Adeline


September 01, 2021

Thank you for the heads-up about puff pastry and room temperature. I did not know this because no one mentions it.


August 27, 2021

Thanks, Judy!

Judy Taussik
Judy Taussik

August 27, 2021

Always love your plum torte! It is delicious and one of my favorites!!

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