Tarte de Cambrai -- Easy French "Cake" with Fresh Fruit

 Tarte de Cambrai -- Easy French "Cake" with Fresh Fruit

Tarte de Cambrai, also known as Tarte Normande, is a easily made cake-like dessert with fresh fruit baked into the top. The original was made with apples, the major fruit of Normandy, in the northwest of France, where this dessert is a traditional specialty. Pears are also used, as are fresh plums, which are my favorite. Sometimes the apple version, reportedly, contains some Calvados, the apple brandy of Normandy. 

In our house, this tarte has become a standard dessert that my wife, Christina, makes. having found a recipe in a cooking magazine 40 years or more ago, possible "Cuisine." Depending on what fruit is in season, she makes the treat with any of the three typical fruits. Right now with prune plums in season she just used those, as pictured in this posting.

The traditional topping in France is Crème Fraiche, the French version of sour cream. Sour cream or whipped cream, or even a little vanilla ice cream can be used here when serving the tarte. 

The recipe makes a 10-inch round cake, enough to serve six to eight for dessert or tea snack. 

5 large ripe apples or pears, or 10-12 medium-small dark-colored plums

1 tablespoon lemon juice for the fruit 


10 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) flour

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt (the French use less)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla


2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Set oven for 375 degrees.

Peel apples or pears, if used. Quarter them and cut out the cores. Cut the fruit lengthwise into 1/4-inch wide wedge-like slices. Toss them with the lemon juice. Or, if using plums, rinse them but do not peel. Cut them in half around the pit, twist them to free up the pit, or cut along it with a knife to remove it. Keep the plum halves intact if they are small, or cut them in half if large. Toss them with the lemon juice.

In a mixing bowl, place all the batter ingredients and mix them together well by hand using a whisk or large fork. 

Grease a 10-inch round baking dish that the tarte will be served from. Spread the batter evenly in the dish. Arrange the fruit attractively on top of the batter. If using sliced almonds, scatter them over the surface. Sprinkle the top evenly with the 2 tablespoons of sugar, then cut the butter into bits and scatter them evenly on top.  

Bake 40-50 minutes or until the tarte has risen and the top is golde
n brown. 

Eat warm with whipped cream, sour cream, or vanilla ice cream.

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