I’ve a long-held fondness for Victoria plums, aka Italian prune plums, that harks back to the garden of my childhood where our two plum trees yielded so much fruit that each summer their branches frequently cracked under the weight. That is until a favorite uncle built a bonfire a bit too close to one of them. We still managed very well with the remaining plum tree but he was forbidden to busy himself in our garden after that.
These are the very best type of plum for baking in pies, tarts or crumbles, etc and because their US season is short (where I live), I’m sharing two recipes today; the first is Nigel Slater’s one-crust fruit pie/galette from his ‘Real Cooking’ cookbook – his is my favorite version of the classic, with it’s tender crust and rustic simplicity.
The second recipe is one that Delia Smith published in the London Evening Standard way back in the 1970’s; her plum, oat and walnut crumble recipe is one I’ve been making over and over again for the past 35 years and is about as perfect a crumble as you can get.
For the one-crust fruit galette and with regard to making pastry from scratch; as long as it’s handled properly, i.e., not too much – and as long as the butter is chilled and you stick the dough in the freezer for a bit before rolling it out, you’ll have a perfect, crisp, buttery, pastry crust.
Here I’ve combined Victoria plums with fresh apricots that were so ripe, the stones fell right out of them when I picked them up but you can use any fruit you like.
I used less than the suggested amount of sugar below because I wanted a slightly tart ‘tart’, allowing the flavor of the plums and apricots to really shine. The amount of sugar is up to you because the sharper the fruit, the more sugar you’ll need. On the other hand, I was pretty generous with the sugar I sprinkled over the pastry before sticking it in the oven.
One more thing – I use a food processor to make pastry and crumbly toppings. Purists will say that one is supposed to use one’s fingers but this blog is about food that’s ‘Fast & Fabulous’ and pulsing flour and butter a few times is not only fast, it’s fabulously easy.
I own a rolling pin but if you don’t, a clean wine bottle does the trick.
EASY ONE-CRUST FRUIT GALETTE
7oz (200g) of plain/all purpose flour
4 and a ½ oz (125g) of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
Pinch of sea salt
1 and 3/4lbs (800g) of fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears, apples, blackberries, blueberries, etc – whatever you like)
2 ½ – 3 ½ oz (75-95g) of sugar
Lightly beaten egg white or milk for the pastry wash
Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C). Line a baking sheet/shallow roasting pan with parchment.
Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it’s the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add two or three tablespoons of cold water, pulse again and very gently scoop the dough out onto a floured board. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If you’ve added too much water and you have a sticky dough, sprinkle with a bit more flour.
Without unnecessary squeezing or kneading, carefully gather it up into a ball, wrap it in cling film/plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes while you prepare the fruit.
Halve and stone the plums (or peel pears, core apples, quarter peaches, pit the cherries, etc). Toss the fruit in some of the sugar in a large bowl.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board and when you have a sort of round square that’s about 12 ins (30cm) across, drape it carefully over the rolling pin and center it on the baking parchment-lined baking sheet.
Pile the fruit into the center of the pastry and fold the pastry edges into the center, creating a rather haphazard rim that doesn’t meet in the middle. The fruit needs to be a snug fit but you want a sizable hole in the top for the fruit to show through. Brush the pastry with egg white or milk and scatter with more sugar.
Bake it for 40 mins, until the fruit is tender and the pastry is golden brown. Serve it warm or at room temp with a good dollop of crème fraîche or ice cream.
And now for the plum and walnut crumble –
PLUM CRUMBLE with WALNUTS
2 lbs (1 kilo) of plums, halved and stones removed
4 oz (114g) of soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
And for the topping:
3 oz (85g) of whole-wheat flour
3 oz (85g) of butter, chilled and cut into pieces
3 oz (85g) of thick cut oats
3 oz (85g) of soft brown sugar
3 oz of finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C).
Arrange the plums in a well-buttered 12 in (30cm) baking dish and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
Put the butter, flour, cinnamon and half of the oats in a food processor and pulse until it’s crumbly and the butter has been incorporated. Transfer the crumble to another bowl and fold in the remaining oats, sugar and chopped nuts – stir well to combine, then scatter the crumble on top of the fruit.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the topping is golden and you have lovely, bubbling, sticky plummy edges.
I like to serve this warm or at room temp with crème fraîche, vanilla or cinnamon ice cream – or perhaps if its a cold day, a jug of steaming hot British Custard (crème Anglaise).