Thursday, 18 September 2008

Plum Crumble

You just can’t beat English plums for great flavour. They’re in season now, and if you’re like me, and can’t resist the lure of a Victoria or Marjorie Seedling, this is the best and really only time to find them.
Plums can have quite an astringent taste, but I find that this is one of their best qualities. Much of that special plummy flavour is in the skin, which I like to leave on for maximum taste.
On my visit to Whitstable, I ate at a restaurant named Samphire and ended the meal with a lovely pudding, made with apples, plums and topped with crumble containing Kent cob nuts. It was so delicious that I was inspired to recreate my own version.
Letting the plums take centre stage, I opted to leave out the apple altogether and just have more plums.
I personally think that this should be served with a good crème anglais (if you want to be posh) or custard if you’re traditional like me!

For the plums
1 1/2 lbs plums
2 tablespoons water
sugar to taste
grated zest of half an orange
half teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the crumble topping
4 oz whole blanched hazelnuts
3 oz unsalted butter, cubed
3 oz sugar
4 oz plain flour

Preheat the oven to at 180 C, gas mark 4.
Halve the plums and remove the stones. Place a large frying pan over a moderate heat and add a knob of butter. Put in the plums and add the water.
Add the orange zest and cinnamon and stir gently to combine.
Cook the plums on a low heat until they start to soften and let out some of their juices.
Now add some sugar, just taste the juice to check whether it's to your liking.
Remove from the heat and tip them into an ovenproof dish.

In another frying pan, dry roast the hazelnuts over medium heat, stirring all the time, until they take on a golden colour.
When they’re ready, remove from the heat and leave to cool, before chopping them roughly.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugar. Add the butter and then gently work in the butter using your fingertips, rubbing and lifting, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the chopped hazelnuts and stir in.

Spoon the crumble topping over the fruit and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown.


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