A Plum Dessert, Naughty not Haughty.

The plums are ready. They are the highlight of summer. My mother likes to remind me every January about the amount of plums she ate during her ‘lying in’ period after my birth¬Ļ. Her hospital room window faced a heavily laden plum-tree: she ate stewed plums for 10 days. Perhaps that accounts for my passion for plums- it came through the milk!

Labne, baked plums, seeds and nuts

I have also been pondering the words¬†plum and plummy in English phrases such as “Speaking with a plum in your mouth” or “He has a plummy accent” and “She has a plum job”. Most Australians would consider a ‘plummy’ accent to be a mark of haughtiness, the term used with disdain in a country relatively free of rigid class distinction. However, if you want to practise speaking with such an accent, pop a small plum in your mouth which will force you to make drawn out “o” noises, with a rather slow and deliberate vocalisation.¬†Another site advises “putting a pen in the mouth, horizontally, forcing you to enunciate your words more and to talk more slowly, giving your words an extra second or two to fully come out of your mouth. Pausing also works, because pausing allows the person you’re speaking to digest all the words you’ve just said.” The assumption here might be that the speaker feels herself to be terribly important and the recipient rather slow and definitely inferior. There you go; proof that those who seek to speak in such a way have soft, plum filled brains. It would be advised, at least in Australia, to lose such an accent very quickly if you don’t wish to be considered imperious, affected and in-bred.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Plummy Dessert

But then who wouldn’t want a plum job? The notion of easy work, perhaps ‘soft’ like¬†a plum, came about to distinguish well paid positions involving little work compared to those involved with physical labour. The term is still used today to denote highly paid work. In the 1600s, ‘plum’ was a British term meaning ¬£1000, a serious amount of money in those days.

It looks like plums have a lot to answer for.

A Plum Dessert, an original recipe influenced by something I may have either read or eaten. Please play with it. The ingredients are few and flexible but the result is delicious.

  • Fresh Blood plums or Satsuma plums
  • Brown sugar
  • Yoghurt
  • Nuts and seeds. I used almond flakes, pepitas, sunflower seeds and pistachio

Get a tub of yoghurt and make plain¬†Labne. It is a simple process which will take one day. Cut the¬†blood plums in half and remove the stone. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and sprinkle with a little brown sugar over the each of the cut plums. Bake in an oven at 180¬ļC until soft, until it oozes with red juice. Pop the nuts and seeds onto another paper lined baking tray, sprinkle with a tiny amount of brown sugar, and bake for a few minutes the oven. Watch like a hawk. Mine went a bit too brown but I still enjoyed them. If you are sugar phobic, don’t¬†add any, though the juices won’t¬†run so lusciously.

Dollop a generous scoop of Labne onto a serving plate, cover with plums and juice, and sprinkle with the nut mixture. Eat for breakfast, lunch or tea or anytime in between.

plummy breakfast
Plummy Breakfast

¬ĻA 1932 publication refers to lying-in as ranging from 2 weeks to 2 months.¬†It also does not suggest “Getting Up” (getting out of bed post-birth) for at least nine days and ideally for 20 days. In my mother’s time, ( throughout the 1950s) it was 10 days before ‘getting up’ after giving birth.

My, how things have changed.

 

Fresh Fruit Charlotte, Lorenza de’ Medici’s Special Cake.

Image

Throughout the nineties, which seems like yesterday, I was in love with Lorenza de’ Medici. It wasn’t so much her recipes that inspired me: I wanted to live in her house! I acquired all of her cookbooks at great expense and learnt Italian, a necessary step if I were to become the new proprietress of¬†Badia¬†a¬†Coltibuono. It was a wonderful fantasy. One of the desserts I made during that era came from her glossy coffee table book ‘The Renaissance of Italian Cooking’. I had completely forgotten about this sweet¬†until I recently found the book again at a second-hand store. ( all my cookbooks were lost in¬†2009¬†). The original ¬†price was ¬†$49.00 but this week’s price was $3.99. ¬†I love people who discard their cookbooks, I have re-filled my shelves with cheap treasure. ¬†I made my special dessert again this Sunday and relived all my Italian fantasies. It is back on the top of my favourite¬†dolce¬†list.Image

Charlotta Di Frutta

For the Short pastry.

  • 350 g plain flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 125 g sugar
  • 225 g butter
  • pinch of ¬†salt

For the filling

  • 1 orange
  • 300 g blood plums
  • 1 kg apples
  • 225 g sugar
  • grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Marsala
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 vanilla pod ( optional)Image

Method

  1. Prepare the short crust pastry. Place the dry ingredients in the food processor, add the butter, process, then the egg yolks, until mixed and formed into a ball. ( you can do this by hand if you prefer). Roll or press into a flat slab, wrap in cling wrap and let rest in the fridge for an hour or so.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Grate the orange peel and reserve. Peel the orange, removing any pith, and divide into segments. Peel the plums and apples and cut into pieces. Cook the fruit together with the sugar, lemon and orange peel, Marsala, cloves and vanilla pod for 20 minutes, uncovered, over low heat.
  3. Butter and flour a 25 cm springform pan. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to line the base and sides of the pan. Fill with the cooled cooked fruit and cover with the remaining pastry, rolled out thinly. Cook in a preheated oven at 180 degrees c /350 f for 45 minutes. Let cool before removing from the pan. Dust with icing sugar,and serve at room temperature with cream Serves 8-10.

Image

Image

Note: this pastry is VERY short, requiring some patching do be done here and there. Despite this frustration, it is worth the effort and will still taste and look lovely.

This post is for Marcel, the boy who appreciates good food!