About a month ago we were watching an episode of Food Unwrapped where they investigated the benefit of prunes in keeping you… ahem, ‘regular’.
The presenters did a little compare & contrast experiment where, each day, one of them drank a glass of prune juice, another ate a couple of plums and the third ate a few prunes. The last proved to be by far the most effective way of upping your fibre intake.
The programme took a trip to Agen in France which apparently produces the best prunes in the world. That was it, I was straight online to order myself a bag of Agen prunes.
They didn’t lie, Agen prunes put all other prunes in the shade when it comes to taste and size. I’ve begun eating 3 prunes each morning and I can attest that the workings of my alimentary canal are markedly smoother than previously!
I searched through all my cookery books looking for a tempting recipe to try so as to mix my prune intake up a little. Eventually, I came across a prune and almond tart with Armagnac in Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. I don’t think I’ve not previously posted any of his recipes despite the fact that we love a lot of the food he makes.
We’re not big brandy drinkers and I couldn’t find anywhere that sold miniatures, but decided to invest in a bottle of Armagnac for this and future recipes – it’s often called for in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Stein’s instruction is to soak the prunes for an hour prior to using them. However, I think a more extensive soak (overnight / 8 hours or so) would improve matters.
Not that the tart wasn’t incredibly good anyway – believe me, it was! Pairing it with a dollop of crème fraîche really works too.
- 225g/8oz plain flour, sifted
- ½tsp salt
- 130g/4½oz butter, chilled & diced
- 1½-2tbs cold water
- 300g/10½oz mi-cuit (semi-dried) Agen prunes, stoned
- 4tbs Armagnac
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 35g/1¼oz ground almonds
- 55g/2oz caster sugar
- 200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche
- icing sugar (for dusting)
- additional crème fraîche (for serving)
- Put the prunes into a bowl with the Armagnac and leave to soak for at least an hour, turning them occasionally to help them absorb the alcohol
- Put the flour and salt in a food processor or mixing bowl. Add the butter and work together to the fine breadcrumb stage
- Stir in the water with a round-bladed knife until it comes together into a ball
- Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed briefly until smooth
- Rest the pastry in a fridge for about 30 minutes before using
- Roll out the pastry and use it to line a greased, loose-bottomed flan tin (2½ cm deep, 24cm diameter)
- Prick the base all over and chill for 20 minutes
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas mark 6
- Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes then remove the blind baking gubbins and bake the case for a further 5 minutes
- Set the case aside and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/ºF/Gas mark 5
- Drain the prunes over a bowl to reserve the remaining Armagnac
- Add the ground almonds, egg, sugar and crème fraîche to the Armagnac then beat together until smooth
- Distribute the prunes over the base of the pastry case and pour over the almond mixture
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes away clean
- Allow the tart to cool before dusting with a little icing sugar
- Serve with additional crème fraîche