ISSUE 80  |  Locally Grown

Driveway Fruit Tarts: A Love Story

July 12, 2013 1:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

The first time I met Julie, I brought a Driveway Fruit Tart to her house for dinner.

“I still remember,” Julie said the other day.

“You remember when we met?” I asked, flattered.

“No, I remember the tart,” she said. “Plum.”


Above: Here is the thing about living in Northern California. Fruit trees flourish everywhere–in fact you have to be careful not to spit an errant seed onto the ground if you don’t want to grow food in that spot–and in this climate the trees produce enormous amounts of fruit even if you ignore them. At my house, pears and apples and plums somehow managed to go gangbusters on a narrow, 18-inch strip of hard-packed dirt along the edge of the driveway.


Above: For a long-handled tool to snag hard-to-reach driveway fruit, see “Picking Fruit the Easy Way.” Image via Debby Evans.


Above: My plum tart recipe–which I also use as a basis for pear tart and peach tart and fig tart (another neighbor is always foisting her driveway figs on me)–is the easiest thing in the world to make. It’s actually a simplified version of a recipe that used to appear, every year, in the New York Times until the food editors there tired of it. For variations involving peaches, apples, and cranberries, see the Original Plum Torte Recipe. (I call it a tart because I think a driveway tart sounds more fancy than a driveway torte. What do you think?) Image via Tracy’s Culinary Adventures.

Driveway Plum Tart, adapted from the New York Times (serves 8)


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached flour–no need to sift
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums
  • Sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon for topping


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream the sugar and butter in a food processor. Add the dry ingredients and the eggs and vanilla and process lightly until well combined.
  • Spoon the batter into a 9-inch springform pan (you can use a smaller pan if you want, but if so, cut down on the number of plum halves).
  • Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter.
  • Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice to taste.
  • Bake one hour. Serve at room temperature.

Above: The recipe works equally with pears. I have brought pear tart to Julie’s house too. “Do you remember?” I asked. No, she said. “But I do remember that beef soup you make. When can you bring it over again?” Image via Suzanne Peirsel.

N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published August 16, 2012.