As cute as the little rascals might be, and as willing I am to share the wealth, it is time to put the ripe fruit to good use. Plum jam is always an option, but I am rather partial to vlaaien, the Limburg version of tarts or pies. And seeing as how this afternoon I am expecting company for coffee, a plumb tart or pruimenvlaai seems to be just the ticket!
Limburg vlaaien use a rich yeast dough for the base of their tarts and pies instead of a flaky crust. It is reminiscent of the fact that these particular pies originated from the leftovers of bread dough at the bakery, and at home. The last remaining pieces of dough would be rolled out, flattened and covered with jam, pieces of fruit or sometimes even just a sprinkle of sugar.
The province of Limburg has a large variety of vlaaien, from sweet and tangy (apricot) to rich and creamy (rice), and just about everything in between. The traditional black plum tart, zwarte pruimen vlaai, is made with dried Italian plums, or prunes, and was made during wintertime when fresh fruit was not available. But since this is (late) summer, and plums are abundantly available, we'll make a fresh plum vlaai instead.
As for Dutch plums, there aren't many, which might explain why there is a distinct lack of plum recipes in the many Dutch cookbooks from last century. Some varieties are Vroege Tolse, Eldense Blauwe, Reine Claude van Schouwen, and the Dubbele Boerenwitte that was mentioned as early as 1790 in J.H.Knoop's "Pomologie of Kennisse der Vruchten" publication. If you have space for a fruit tree, it might be fun to plant one of these Dutch varieties!
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 stick* butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk, warm
1 small egg
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
About 15 ripe plums, washed, pitted and quartered.
Form the dough into a ball, put it in a bowl, cover and let it rise.
In the meantime, make the filling. You could use a package of vanilla pudding to make it easy on yourself but if you have the time, try making this pastry cream - half the recipe will do.
Grease a large pie pan (11 inches), or vlaaivorm, and roll out the dough into a large circle. Transfer it to the pan, and cut off any excess dough you may have. Poke holes in the dough so that it doesn't seize up while baking. Pour the vanilla pudding or pastry cream on top, then arrange the quartered plums. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes - sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the plums and bake for another five minutes. When you take the vlaai out of the oven, sprinkle another tablespoon of sugar over the fruit and let it cool.
It's great served by itself, with a big dollop of whipped cream or, the American way, with a scoop of ice cream!
* Explanations of how much a stick of butter is can be found under the tab "What's in a cup?" at the top of the page.