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Gluten-Free Swiss Plum Tart – Zwetschgen-Wähe
Swiss Plum Tark known as Zwetschgen-Wähe in German originated in Switzerland and is typically prepared as thin square slices of sweet tart filled with a custard mixture (Guss in German) and halved or sliced plums. The most popular fruit used seems to be plums.
The gluten-free pastry comes together easily in a food processor, Thermomix or some energetic elbow grease! The results are a crisp, buttery pastry carrying a simple custard mixture with super sweet plums, flavoured with vanilla and nutmeg.
Fruits that are typically used are stone fruit: Plums, cherries, apricots, nectarine and peaches, but rhubarb and apples are popular too. They don’t have to be ripe, as for the plums I used in this recipe which were slightly under-ripe, but this didn’t matter as the high oven temperature cooks down the fruit and released their juices effortlessly into the custard filling.
I realise there are different plum varieties and sizes, so you may need to do the maths to work out how many plums are needed in this tart. I used very small organic plums, but if using ordinary middle-size plums, perhaps halve the amount asked for in the recipe card.
Varying pastry bases
Besides Switzerland, other German-speaking countries and regions enjoy Wähe, known as the Swiss sister of French tarts. They are prepared similarly but with slightly varying pastry base recipes. Some follow the Swiss method, but others go for a more cake-sponge base, using Quark (often likened to yoghurt and cottage cheese) to get that spongier base, as shown in the photo below.
Wähe can also be savoury using similar ingredients to Quiche Lorraine or other vegetable and cheese fillings. Sugar is left out of the pastry ingredients with salt slightly increased to give a more savoury pastry base.
Why is almond or hazelnut meal added to the pastry base?
This acts as a slight barrier between the pastry dough, fruit and custard filling. It also gives the pastry base a crisper finish and a nuttier flavour.
Besides the fruit flavours, the most popular additional flavourings to add to a Wähe are vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon. The vanilla can be either an extract or vanilla sugar, sold regularly in small sachets in Europe. As a finishing touch, extra vanilla sugar may be sprinkled over the baked tart while it is cooling.
What shaped tin should be used?
Traditionally, this fruit tart is served in squares, using a long or rectangular tart tin or tray. Round tins are more practical and popular, especially if you intend to serve them as a meal if making a savoury filling. I used a greased springform rectangular tin in this recipe. It was easy to remove the tart once baked.
What is the difference between a Wähe and a French tart?
The latter is usually blind baked without the filling. The filling is only added once the pastry base is completely cooked, whereas a Wähe is partially blind baked with a nut meal sprinkled and the stone fruit positioned on top. The plums act like pastry weights to hold the pastry in place without rising or bubbling up while baking.
Custard filling is added a quarter way through the entire baking time. This loose custard filling is made using basic ingredients like eggs, milk and/or cream. Once baked fully, the custard and released fruit juice absorbs slightly into the pastry crust. Surprisingly this does not give it a soggy texture, instead it results in a perfect combination of a sweet, thin, crisp, fruity slice that is delicious served on its own, fresh whipped cream, or my personal preference, vanilla ice cream.
Swiss Plum Tart (Zwetschgen-Wähe)
For the gluten-free pastry base:
For the custard & plum filling:
- 2 tbsp ground almond or hazelnut meal
- 15 small fresh plums
- 50 ml milk
- 125 ml cream with 36g fat content
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tbsp cornflour Known as cornflour in the UK and corn or maize starch in the USA
- Extra caster sugar or vanilla sugar to sprinkle over tart
GLUTEN-FREE PASTRY BASE
Preparing the pastry base
- Add the flour, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and almond or hazelnut meal to a food processor. Pulse to combine the ingredients.
- Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add them to the food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolk, followed by the white wine vinegar. Pulse.
- While the food processor is running, pour the iced cold water gradually until everything comes together as a soft dough.
- Grease a springform tart tin (31 cm by 21 cm) or round 25cm quiche tin with some butter using the packet or a brush. (Please note to use a larger tin if doubling or tripling the recipe).
- Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper slightly larger than the springform tin.
- Flip the pastry over onto the tin and cut away the excess pastry, tidying up the edges with extra pastry so that the sides are even. It doesn’t need to look perfect; rustic is good!
- Chill the pastry uncovered for 30 mins.
- Meanwhile, in a jug, combine the milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and nutmeg.
- Add the cornflour to a small bowl and mix in some of the milk mixture to form a paste. Add this paste to the milk mixture and thoroughly combine using a fork.
Baking the plum tart
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Wash and dry the plums. Cut them in half and gently remove the stone.
- Prick the pastry base several times with a fork and sprinkle the almond or hazelnut meal over it.
- Place the cut plums in uniform rows on top of the pastry base.
- Bake for 15 mins on the bottom shelf. The base should start to look light brown and the plums slightly soft.
- Pour the prepared milk mixture into the pastry base. If possible, add this without removing the tin from the oven to avoid spillage.
- Bake for a further 20-25 mins, or until the filling is set and golden. Should the pastry crust start to look golden before the filling is set, lower the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F.
- Sprinkle some extra regular or vanilla sugar over the top while it is cooling down.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. My personal preference is serving it with ice cream especially if the tart is served warm.
- Keeps for 3 days chilled
- Suitable to freeze