Archive for: plum
Plums are a delicious fruit to bake with because their sweet flavor only intensifies in the oven. It is often used in fruit cobblers, but I like to put it in pie fillings as well. A plum pie has a lovely jammy quality to it, as well as a beautiful color. These Plum Hand Pies are single serving pies that are just one more way to enjoy plums.
One thing that puts people off of baking with plums is that it can be difficult to remove their skins. You can do this by peeling them or by cutting a small x in the bottom and blanching them in hot water for a few seconds. I like to leave the peels on because that is where most of the color of the fruit comes in and the filling of your pies will be deeper and more vibrant if you cut up the fruit without peeling it first. Those tiny pieces of peel don’t detract from the fruit filling one bit. The filling for these pies is rich and juicy, with a wonderfully sweet-tart plum flavor. If your plums are a little on the tart side, you might want to add in an extra tablespoon or two of sugar.
Hand pies have a great crust-to-filling ratio and it is worth taking the time to make pie crust from scratch for a batch of them. The flaky, buttery crust is great with any kind of filling, and this plum filling is no exception. I like to brush my crusts with a little bit of milk or cream before baking, which helps them brown in the oven and also helps a generous sprinkling of coarse sugar to stick in place to finish off the pies.
I made these hand pies a little bit bigger than my apple hand pies, since the pieces of plum are a bit larger. I found that I got a more satisfying pie with a little more filling. So, I make a double batch of the pie crust and make twice as many pies, making each of them a little bigger than I normally would. You could easily cut this recipe in half to make only 5 or 6 hand pies if you prefer a smaller batch, but these keep quite well and are still tasty after a day or two, so there is no harm in having leftovers.
Galettes are wonderful desserts to make with fresh fruit because really let the fruit shine and are also quite easy to prepare. This Plum and Blueberry Galette has a filling made with fresh plums and blueberries, which not only make a good flavor combination, but turn into a dramatic dessert that has a vivid purple color to it.
A galette is a free-form tart that has a flaky pastry crust, rather like a pie that you can make without using a pie plate. Since the tart has a casual look, I always feel like I can put just about anything inside one and often use a combination of whatever fruit I have on hand. In this case, I used some sweet, ripe plums and plump blueberries. Both fruits have a bold sweetness to them and they work well together, giving the tart a wonderfully jammy flavor that is perfectly showcased in a buttery, flaky pie crust.
I typically leave the skins on plums when I bake with them, since a lot of the color of plums comes from their skin and I like to have that bold color in my desserts. The skin is also very tender, so it rarely seems intrusive in the finished dessert. If you prefer, you can certainly peel the plums before using them. Also, be sure to taste your plums because if they are on the tart side, you might want to add a few extra tablespoonfuls of sugar to sweeten up this dessert. Serve the galette while it is still just slightly warm from the oven, either plain or with a little bit of sweetened whipped cream on the side.
It’s easy to get excited about making fruit desserts when you are looking at a beautiful display of fresh, in-season fruit at your local grocery store or farmers’ market. Peaches have a lovely floral aroma and ripe plums smell as sweet as honey. Fortunately, there is no need to resist the temptation to stock up on fruit because there are all kinds of amazing dishes that you can bake with them. Pies and tarts are just a couple of options, but a classic cobbler is always an easy way to enjoy fruit in a dessert and this Plum and Peach Cobbler is a perfect example.
I used a mixture of fresh peaches and fresh plums in this cobbler. The flavors of the two stone fruits blend together beautifully, for a sweet and richly flavored filling. They also look absolutely beautiful together, with the bright yellow color of the peaches contrasting well with the darker red color in the plums. Most of the color in the plums comes from the skin of the fruit, so I recommend not peeling your plums before you use them. Plum skins are also quite delicate, so they don’t take away from the fruit itself when you’re eating the cobbler. The peaches, on the other hand, should be peeled before you add them to the filling.
When picking out fruit for the cobbler, choose fruits that are ripe but still slightly firm. Firmer plums and peaches will be easier to work with than very soft fruits, and they’ll hold their shape during baking without breaking down. Cut them into approximately equal slices – which means that plums should be quartered, while peaches can be cut into 6-8 slices, depending on the size of the fruit. I used about equal parts of plums and peaches, but you can always slant your cobbler filling towards one or the other, depending on how much fruit you have in your kitchen, or incorporate other fruits like nectarines or apricots.
Vanilla cheesecake is like a blank canvas. The rich, creamy filling is not too sweet and has a very subtle tang to it from all of that cream cheese. While it is tasty plain, it also cries out for something to go with it. Fresh berries, chocolate sauce, fruit coulis and many other things are often added as a topping to vanilla cheesecake to liven it up. You can also liven up a cheesecake by adding something directly into that filling, and that is exactly what I did when putting together this Vanilla Cheesecake with Plum Preserves.
The cheesecake is one of my favorite basic cheesecake recipes. It isn’t the towering, ultra-dense cheesecake you’ll find in the refrigerated case at your local chain restaurant. It has a velvety texture that is dense, but no so heavy you can’t eat a whole slice yourself, and a hint of vanilla flavor that carries through the slightly tangy cream cheese and yogurt filling. I added a generous amount of good quality plum preserves (I used Bonne Maman Plum Preserves) and swirled them into the filling before baking. The large chunks of plum in the preserves sank a bit in the filling, but they still made a lovely contrast with the rest of the cheesecake. You could use other fruit preserves to change up the flavors in this dessert a bit, as well.
My favorite thing about this recipe – apart from eating it once it has cooled, of course – is that this cheesecake is low-fuss and very easy to make. I make a homemade shortbread crust for this recipe, and the filling is poured into the pan while the crust is still hot and put back into the oven for a second baking. I don’t use a water bath and I find that, as a result, I am much more likely to make cheesecake when the craving strikes.
I typically use thick, greek-style yogurt in this cheesecake. It contributes to the richness of the cheesecake and adds a very subtle tang, which keeps the cheesecake from feeling too heavy. Full fat greek-style yogurt (I always use plain) will give you the best results, but low fat and even nonfat will work very well. If you don’t have greek-style yogurt, you can use sour cream, although I would again recommend using full-fat for best results.
Baking with plums is wonderful, not just because plums are so tasty, but because plums are a beautiful color and make for some of the most incredible looking desserts you’ll come across. The flesh of most plums is a reddish yellow color. Most of the coloring of the fruit comes from the skin, so I tend to leave it on when I bake with them. Leaving the skin on saves a lot of prep time, and the skin is tender and easy to both eat and slice through, so it isn’t unpleasant (as some other peels are) in a finished product – and it sure is lovely to see.
This time around, I used plums in a Plum Clafoutis. A clafoutis is a french dessert that is somewhere between a custard and a cake in consistency, easy to slice through but with an eggy flavor. It is a great backdrop for all kinds of fruit, from strawberries to pears. The batter comes together very quickly and is poured over fresh fruit, then baked. My plums were relatively small, so I halved them and arranged them cut-side-up in my baking dish, resulting in a colorful and dramatic look for the finished dish.
In the oven, the plums become meltingly tender and sweet. They really stand out against the lightly sweet, eggy backdrop of the clafoutis. I added a bit of almond extract to the batter, which complimented the plums very nicely. The color pops even more than the flavor, as the plums manage to replicate the colors of the most amazing sunset you’ll ever see. I like this when it is served at room temperature, but it is also good after being chilled in the refrigerator before serving.