This classic dessert from Luxembourg is traditionally eaten in the autumn, when the local Quetschen plums are ripe.
|Preparation time: 75 minutes||Cooking time: 1 hour|
|Difficulty: Easy||Serves: 10|
For the pastry:
- A pinch of salt
- 250g/9oz/2 cups of plain flour
- 50g/2oz/4 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 110g/4oz/1/2 cup of cold butter, chopped into cubes
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of ice cold water
For the filling:
- 700g/25oz/4 cups of Quetschen or damson plums
- 50g/2oz/4 tablespoons of caster sugar
- Some whipped cream or vanilla custard (optional)
Make it vegan: replace the butter in the pastry with coconut oil, vegetable oil, cashew butter or non-dairy margarine, and replace the egg with a tablespoon of soya or oat milk. Use plant-based cream or non-dairy custard instead of dairy versions.
- A sieve
- A large mixing bowl
- A wooden spoon
- A pair of kitchen scissors
- A rolling pin
- A 30cm tart tin
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the salt and 50g of sugar.
- Add the butter to the bowl. Working quickly, use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, so that the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg and ice cold water to the mixture and stir it in with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is too dry to stick together, stir in the remainder of the water.
- Form the dough into a ball with your hands. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or some clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for an hour.
- Next, preheat the oven to 175’C/350’F/Gas Mark 4.
- Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface so that it forms a circle, about 35cm in diameter. Transfer it to the tart tin, make sure it ‘s lining the tin evenly, and cut away any overhang with some kitchen scissors.
- Cut the plums in half, remove the stones, and then cut them into slices. Lay out the plum slices over the pasty and sprinkle the sugar over them.
- Bake the Quetschentaart for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Turn it in the oven occasionally during cooking so that the pastry is cooked evenly.
- Let it cool. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla custard.
- Gudden Appetit!
- Make sure you use cold butter for the pastry, and rub it in to the flour as quickly as possible so that you don’t warm it up with your hands.
- Make sure you roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface so it doesn’t stick. If it seems too sticky and wet, rub in some flour, a little at a time, until it’s less sticky. If it’s too dry, add small amounts of water until it’s a little more pliable.
- When the pastry is the right consistency, roll it out with the pin, turning the dough with your other hand after each couple of rolls, so that the dough is rolled out equally in different directions until it’s roughly circular. If it splits, roll it up into a ball and start again.
- To transfer it to the tart tin, place the rolling pin near the edge of the rolled out pastry and wrap the pastry slowly up around the pin. Then carefully unfold the pastry over the tart tin. Push it neatly into the tin, and cut away any overhanging pastry.
- If desired, you can use the pastry trimmings for decoration. Re-roll the trimmings out and use some pastry cutters to cut the dough into shapes. Then brush one side of the shapes with a little milk and place them milk side down on top of the Quetschentaart before putting it in the oven.
Relatives: Quetscheflued (Austria), Zwetschgenfladen (Germany and Switzerland)
Luxembourg is a small landlocked country in Western Europe, bordered by Germany, France and Belgium. Its history stretches back to 963 AD when Siegfried, Count of the Ardennes, acquired the ancient Lucilinburhuc fortification from St. Maximin’s Abbey, Trier. The fort was situated on top of a rocky promontory, along a road that linked Reims, Arlon and Trier. Easy to defend and ideally located for trade, Lucilinburhuc was refortified and a bustling trading community grew around the castle. ‘Lucilinburhuc‘ became ‘Luxembourg’, and Siegfried’s descendant heirs took the title of Count of Luxembourg.
The county became a fief of the Holy Roman Empire, and after acquiring new territory it was made a duchy in 1353. Later, in the early modern period, Luxembourg, like the Netherlands, was ruled by the Spanish Habsburgs. It was also occupied by France from 1684-1697 and again from 1795 until Napoleon’s defeat in 1815. After this, Luxembourg was elevated to the status of grand duchy, but was made subordinate to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was ruled by the latter until 1890 when it became an independent grand duchy.
Luxembourg’s historic relationship with France, Belgium and Germany is reflected in its cuisine, which has been influenced by all three as well as by modern immigration from Portugal and Italy. Meat, beans and potatoes are eaten in large quantities, and local river fish like trout are popular. Doughnuts, fruit tarts, pretzels and french cakes are favoured confections; sweet wine is popular, and Luxembourg is a producer of dry white wine, sparkling wine, and ice wine.
The Quetschen plum (‘Zwetschgen‘ in German) is a subspecies of the European plum which grows in Luxembourg and Central Europe. Quetschen are quite similar to the round damson plum, but are more elongated. Quetschen are used to make Austrian and Czech Powidl jam, Silesian Schmootsch jam, German Zwetschgenmännla figurines and Hungarian Szilvás Gombóc dumplings. They’re also used to make brandies like Luxembourgian Quetsch and Austrian, German and Swiss Zwetsch.
They’re very popular in Luxembourg, where annual plum festivals (Quetschefest) are held in early autumn to celebrate the Quetschen coming into season. The Quetschen are served up with regional fruits at these festivals, as are delicacies like Quetschentaart. Quetschentaart is also sold at bakeries across Luxembourg at this time of year; it’s usually eaten with afternoon coffee, and is served up with whipped cream.
Ketty Thull included a recipe for Quetschentaart in her cookbooks, which were published in the 1930s and 40s. Thull’s books, which featured meat and vegetable dishes as well as pastries and desserts like Quetschentaart, are widely considered to be a treasure trove of authentic Luxembourgian cuisine. They’re still widely read, and as a result, Thull’s version of Quetschentaart is still popular today.