For those of you who aren’t sure, greengages are a variety of dessert plum with a taste somewhere between bitter and sweet. Green in colour and small in size, greengages are the quintessential cooking plum – though they are also enjoyable in their unadulterated form. Simply roast or reduce them with a sprinkling of sugar and they’ll work equally well in chutney, cake, puddings or a greengage tart.
When buying your greengages, ensure they aren’t too firm. One is usually able to predict how ripe a greengage is by its colour; the darker the greengage, the riper it is. Using under-ripe greengages, as with any fruit poses a couple of problems. Firstly, the taste of an under-ripe greengage is likely to be a little on the bitter side. Secondly, an under-ripe greengage is always less likely to surrender its “stone”, something likely to result in frustrating moments unwelcome in the kitchen of a pâtissier.
The season for greengages is relatively short, with only august and September getting a look in. However, strike while the iron is hot and buy yourself a kilo or two. At £2.09 per kilo (where I live), it’s difficult to go wrong and they’ll make you extremely happy to boot!
• 1 ball of freshly made shortcrust pastry
• 10-12 greengages, halved
• 125 ml double cream
• 2 eggs
• 4 tbsp sugar
• A little fresh nutmeg
• Icing sugar for dusting
1. Roll out, pop in the tin and blind bake your shortcrust pastry. Meanwhile, arrange your greengage halves on a baking tray, sprinkle with 1 tbsp of sugar and bake for 4-5 minutes at 180C, along with the pastry.
2. Lightly whisk two eggs, add the double cream, nutmeg and remaining sugar and mix thoroughly. Arrange the plums in the blind baked pastry case and carefully pour in the custard mixture.
3. Bake at 160C for 20-30 minutes, until the custard is set and ever so slightly golden brown. Leave to rest and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
Cost: As mentioned above, seasonality strikes again with greengages being exceedingly cheap during the months of August and September. Indeed, so cheap is the fruit that this tart can easily be made for around £2.10!