Tag Archives: plums

Pistachio and Plum Cake

Whilst we are, of course, normally far too busy being exceedingly fabulous hostesses to stop for afternoon tea, there are just occasionally times when the planets align and we are able to let our mascara run and our reinforced under cladding sag (well away from public view, obviously), kick off our court shoes and spark up a Capstan Full Strength while the kettle boils.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Seeing as though also we are trying to reintegrate into high society once again, this uniquely English institution is a remarkably civilised and uncomplicated step to take on that journey. One thing it does require, though, is cake – and this is a slightly exotic version of a Victoria Sandwich. I hope you enjoy its rich denseness and alluring pale green and amaranth colours, just not quite in the somewhat literal sense Brenda seems to have done by the look of the stretch marks in her Spanx and the jangling palette of her maquillage…..

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

INGREDIENTS

for the cake

200g unsalted pistachios – shelled and skinned
275g butter – in approx 1-2cm cubes and at room temp
275g icing sugar
7 large eggs
375g ground almonds
110g cornflour
2tsp baking powder

for the filling

stewed plums – we had these in the freezer. Don’t worry if you don’t, you can use a neighbour’s – or just use plum jam.
sugar to taste

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°C while you shell and skin the pistachios – if you buy pre shelled, excellent. Rub most of the skins off but don’t overly fret if some get left on, making a cake should be a pleasure, not turned into an afternoon of purgatory.

Place the pistachios in a metal pan and roast for 5 mins, perhaps briefly taking out half way through to give the pan a small shake.

Once hot and fragrant, take out and blitz in the food processor until they’re forming a paste.

Now lower the oven temperature to 150°C while you grease with butter and line a 22cm cake tin.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Add the ground almonds, the butter, icing sugar and eggs (I popped a couple of extra yolks in too which I had in the fridge left over from making a meringue!). Whizz for up to 2 mins or so till well combined, add the cornflour and whizz on slowest speed for a few seconds till just combined.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and slot into the oven on the middle shelf for an hour or a tiny bit longer if not quite yet cooked. I also turned mine half way through to ensure very even cooking.

Meanwhile, take about 300ml of the stewed plums, pressed them through a sieve into a small pan and heated gently on the hob. Then add just enough sugar to take off the sour edge but not cause the fruit to get too sweet. Allow the puree to just simmer for about 15-20 mins so that you end up with something quite jammy in consistency. Set aside to cool.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Once the cake is done, turn out onto a wire rack to cool which may take a good couple of hours. With a long, thin blade, slice horizontally in two, and on the lower half, spread a fairly thin layer of the plum puree – as if to spread jam on toast. Replace the top half of the cake, dust with icing sugar and serve with cups of tea using your best china!

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Brenda’s Plum Vodka

From about the end of November through to mid January, Fanny spends herself enjoying the finer aspects of the season. I trail along barely able to keep up with her considerable consumption. However I am taken to parties with her because she has to show she has at least one good looking pretty and intelligent friend. It would be a tragic situation but for the fact that like her I enjoy a good drink. This year we have had a plum glut – our two old trees produce what we believe are Early Rivers plums. They aren’t the greatest ‘eaters’ if I’m honest, and they are better cooked. They make lovely stewed plums for instance. However I now have a freezer full of them so time to move on. This week I bought some Russian standard vodka and decided to merge the plums with vodka to be enjoyed leisurely at Christmas. I am storing this in a 2 litre kilner style storage jar which has been sterilised beforehand.

plum vodka makde using russian vodka and our own home grown plums

Ingredients

1l 40% Russian standard vodka
300g of sugar
Plums to fill the jar once the vodka and the sugar have been poured in.

Method

Pour in vodka
Pour in sugar
Shake
Add plums
Seal lid
Place somewhere cool for three months, occasionally shaking it up to dissolve the sugar.
Test 1 month before using that you like the sweetness. If it needs more sugar, now is the time to add it.

Windfall Plum Crumble

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free photography by simon c bennett
It never fails to amaze me that people can think that free fruit is probably ghastly or at worst poisonous. It’s very useful that such ignorance pervades when foraging, as free food of this ilk is a superb bounty for the cook that desires high quality but doesn’t want to pay through the nose at the local supermarket. Sometimes free food is growing in one’s own garden.

Fanny has a very old plum tree in her garden which she studiously ignores, as it obliterates a ghastly anti social neighbour when it’s in full leaf in the summer. So it is rather unruly but rather fabulously it does tend to crop quite heavily. I suspect it is an Early Rivers plum, – small purpley skin with yellow flesh. It’s better cooked than raw – there are more interesting plums for the fruit bowl if I am honest.

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free

Ruby the cat looked astonished as she saw me scrabbling around on all fours picking up the fallers. I tend to leave the ones that have been eaten by the insects (- although they are probably the sweeter ones). However once I had my kg of plums I strode back to the kitchen, washed them, de-stoned them and put them in a small pan with about 200ml of water and some sugar to stew them for about quarter of an hour.

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free

And all this before breakfast! Fanny meanwhile was sleeping her head off upstairs and I can tell you the snoring was horrendous. How there aren’t cracks in the foundations I really don’t know.

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free photographer simon bennett

Whilst the plums were stewing I got out some ground almonds, butter and some almond flour and combined them till I had a flakey texture in my hands.

I poured the gorgeous plums into the souffle dish, added some cinnamon and star anise and a measure of plum liqueur. Actually I added two measures and knocked one back myself to check it was ok. It was perfect. The day had started well.

I then put the almond flour mixture on top and then added a layer of demerara sugar. The trick here is to cook for 35 minutes at 150° and then whack up the temperature for the last 15 mins to 200° to get the sugar to crisp

gorgeous almondy plum crumble - good for gluten free

We then served it with some of Fanny’s home made plain yoghurt!

Ingredients
1 kg of plums
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 measures of plum liqueur ( we used Prucia)
100g ground almonds
100g almond flour
30g of butter