Plums Perfect Summer Fruit
Sweet, tart, firm-skinned and tender-fleshed, plums are the perfect summer fruit.
Summer Begins with Plums
Plums are the first fruits in early June and are a sure sign that warm weather is here to stay for a while. Found in the supermarket aisles are sweet, juicy black and green plums, as well as yellow and scarlet varieties. In September, we see the appearance of purple prune plums, which we often eat out of hand. In addition, the arrival of these signifies the end of summer and the approaching of chilly weather.
When eating a plum out of hand, they are best when eaten at room temperature. They make a perfect (and healthy) snack or the simplest of desserts. Like prunes, we do not give much attention to them in dessert baking but they join well with other ingredients and flavors to make delicious desserts.
When selecting plums, select firm plums and refrigerate them to keep them fresh. To ripen store-bought plums, keep them in a closed bag at room temperature. Ethylene gas produced by the plums speeds ripening, making the flesh juicy and sweet.
Plum Dessert Recipes
Two-Plum Cobbler with Biscuit Crust
2 pounds plums, red and green mixed (about six cups pitted and sliced)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (divided)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Biscuit dough (see recipe)
2 tablespoons whipping cream or buttermilk
To prepare filling, place sliced plums in large bowl. Combine 2/3-cup sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and the grated lime zest and toss with plums. Transfer mixture to 1-1/2-quart oval baking dish. Dot with butter. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
Prepare biscuit dough. On floured surface, pat dough into same shape as baking dish. Slide a cookie sheet under dough and slide it off onto filling. Press dough gently in place. Flute edges and cut several vent holes in center. Brush the top with cream and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake cobbler on center rack of preheated oven until crust is well colored and filling is beginning to bubble, about 40 minutes. Serve cobbler warm. Recipe makes eight to ten servings.
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter cut up
2/3 cup whipping cream or buttermilk
In bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder and stir to mix. Rub in the butter until the dough is a fine crumb form. Stir in cream to form soft dough.
Plum Crumb Cake
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Four large egg yolks
1-1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups pitted quartered plums (about 1-1/4 pounds)
Crumbs (see recipe)
Butter one 10-inch round cake pan, 2-inches deep. Line bottom with round piece of parchment or wax paper.
To prepare cake, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until soft and light. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, and continue beating until batter is smooth, like butter-cream. Stir flour and baking powder together and stir into batter.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Arrange plums, skin side down on batter, leaving a 1-inch margin at edge.
Prepare crumbs. Scatter crumbs over entire surface of batter and plums.
Bake on center rack at 350-degrees until center is firm when pressed with fingertip and crumbs are a deep golden color, about one hour. Cool in pan on rack. Remove from mold and dust with powdered sugar. Recipe makes eight to ten servings.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
Beat butter and brown sugar until soft and light. Stir in flour and rub mixture by hand to form coarse crumbs.
One batch Biscuit Dough (see recipe above for Two Plum Cobbler)
1-1/2 pounds plums, rinsed, pitted and sliced (about four to five cups)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (divided)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon white rum
1 cup whipping cream
Prepare biscuit dough and turn dough out onto floured surface and flour dough lightly. Press and pat dough into 6-inch square, about 3/4-inch thick. Cut dough into three strips, 2-by-6-inches each. Cut each strip diagonally to make two diamonds, for six diamonds. Mass scraps together and make two more diamond shaped biscuits.
Transfer biscuits to buttered baking sheet. Bake on middle rack of preheated oven until golden, about ten minutes. Remove from baking sheet pan and cool on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350-degrees.
To prepare filling, place sliced plums in bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 2/3-cup sugar and the water to boil. Pour over the plums. Sprinkle with rum and allow standing until cold. Cover and chill.
To prepare cream, combine cream, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and whip until soft peak forms. Reheat biscuits at 350-degrees about five minutes. Split biscuits horizontally. Place bottom halves on dessert plates. Top with plum filling Cover with other biscuit half. Spoon whipped cream over top. Recipe makes eight servings.
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