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Best of British food: Three juicy plum recipes

The plum is a versatile fruit that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are three delicious recipes that are sure to tingle your tastebuds.


Plum Marzipan Pie

Ingredients

For the pastry
- 225g cold unsalted butter, chopped into
small pieces
- 350g plain flour
- 50g icing sugar
- 1 large egg yolk (save the white for brushing
the pastry)


For the filling
- 1kg plums (Victoria or Excalibar plums are
delicious if you can find them), halved, stoned,
then halved again
- 100g golden caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp ground almonds or fine polenta
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 200g marzipan, chopped into 1½ cm cubes


Method

  • Put the butter and flour in a food processor with 1/4 tsp salt and blend until the mixture resembles damp breadcrumbs. Or do this by rubbing the butter and flour together in a big bowl with your fingertips.
  • Add the sugar and briefly whizz again or stir to combine.
  • Whisk the egg yolk with 2 tbsp cold water, and drizzle over the flour mixture. Use the pulse button to blend the mixture once more, keep going until it starts to form larger clumps. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little more water a tsp or two at a time, but no more than 3 tsp in total.
  • Tip out onto a work surface and briefly knead the dough to bring it together into a smooth ball. Avoid overworking or it will become tough.
  • Flatten the dough into a puck shape and wrap well in cling film. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or for up to two days, or freeze for two months.
  • Tip the plums, sugar and cornflour into a large pan, then toss to coat. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring now and then, until the plums have just begun to soften. Tip them into a sieve suspended over a large bowl, leave for 30 minutes to one hour, stirring every 10 minutes, until the juice has all collected in the bowl.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Re-wrap the smaller piece of dough and set aside. Divide the larger piece of dough into the number of pies you’d like to make, or leave whole for a large one.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to the thickness of a 50p piece, or until large enough to line the base of your pie plate or tin, with a little pastry overhanging. Roll the dough over your rolling pin, lift into the plate or tin and press it well into the corners. Scatter the almonds or polenta over the base. Stir 2 tbsp of the strained plum juice and the almond extract into the plums.
  • Spoon the filling into the pie dish, dotting the marzipan between the layers of plums as you go. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf.
  • Top the pie with a lattice crust. First, arrange the pastry strips on top of your pie, with space between each one. Fold back alternate strips from the centre, then lay a strip across the
  • middle, near the folds.
  • Next, flip the folded strips back to cover the middle pastry strip. Fold back the strips that are woven under the middle piece. Finally, lay another strip across the middle, and flip alternate strips back again.
  • Repeat until you have a woven pattern. Once covered, whisk the reserved egg white and brush over the pastry. Scatter with a little extra sugar, then place the baking sheet and bake for 45 mins for a large pie, 35-40 minutes for medium pies or 25-30 mins for mini pies, until golden and bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes before serving with cream or ice cream.


Gingery Plum Cake

Ingredients

- Butter, for greasing
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar
- 500g plums


For the cake
- 175g butter
- 175g dark muscovado sugar
- 140g golden syrup
- 2 egg, beaten
- 200ml milk
- 300g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice


Method

  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  • Grease and line the base of a 23cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Butter the paper generously and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Halve the plums and arrange in the base of the tin in 1 layer, cut-sides down.
  • For the cake, melt the butter, muscovado sugar and syrup in a large pan over a low heat, stirring until smooth.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the eggs and milk. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then mix to a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter into the tin, over the plums, and bake for
  • 45-55 minutes until firm to the touch.
  • Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  • This will keep in the fridge, wrapped in baking parchment and foil, for up to five days.

Duck and plum sauce

Ingredients

- 2 duck breasts
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 star anise
- 25g butter


For the plum sauce
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g dark red plums, halved,
stoned and cut into small wedges
- 50g demerara sugar
- 50ml red wine
- 300ml beef stock

Method

  • For the sauce, fry the shallot in the oil for 5 minutes or until softened but not coloured. Add the plums and sugar, stirring for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the red wine and stock, then simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly thickened.
  • Keep warm or leave at room temperature for up to a day before reheating to serve.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4. Score the skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a non-stick frying pan and place the duck breasts in, skin-side down. Fry for 6-7 minutes, then turn and add the thyme, star anise and butter.
  • Allow this to melt, basting the duck with the juices, then transfer everything to a small roasting tin and finish in the oven for
  • 5-6 minutes for pink or 10-12 minutes for well done.
  • When the duck is ready, baste again with the juices, then rest for 5 minutes while you finish everything else.
  • To serve, thinly slice each duck breast on a chopping board.
  • Arrange on each plate along with a spoon of the creamed potatoes, some of the plum sauce and the buttered spinach.

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