In September the garden at my family home in Norfolk is bursting with fruit.
Every year we have a bumper harvest of apples, pears, damsons and plums weighing down our fruit trees. So much that my parents often struggle to eat all the produce. I decided to take a long weekend break from London and get busy making jams and chutneys. Plums can take on strong spices which makes them excellent for chutneys and jams, and is a simple and delicious way to preserve them.
With my fruit grabber at the ready I venture out to see what I could harvest.
Whilst I was busy at work this one was enjoying a snooze in the warmth of the greenhouse.
These guys weren’t much help either.
With my generous pickings I decided to make a delicious Plum and Almond Tart and preserve the rest in sweet and sticky jam.
Jam is an excellent way to use up plums if you’ve got more than you can eat. The process is simply and the results delicious.
1 kilo freshly picked plums (halved and stoned)
225 mls water
700 grams caster sugar
Once halved and stoned, simmer the plums over a mid heat for 20 minutes until the plums are soft and the skin has started to loosen.
Whilst this is simmering pop the sugar into a heatproof dish and into the oven to heat up, this will prevent it from crystalising when you add it to the plums.
After simmering add the caster sugar and cook on a low heat for 15minutes or until the sugar has dissolved completely. It is very important that no sugar crystals are left in the jam. You can test this by coating the back of a wooden spoon with the mixture, you will be able to see if the sugar has not dissolved. Turn the heat up and boil rapidly for 10 minutes.
Spoon a little jam onto a cold plate and when the jam cools, push with your finger to see if a crinkly skin has formed, this means it has set, if not, just continue boiling.
Once set take the jam off the heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Then decant into sterilised jam jars. Place your jars in a cool larder for eating throughout the year, or alternatively get stuck in straight away!
The tasty Sourdough loaf was purchased from the lovely Two Magpies Bakery in Southwold.
Plum and Almond Tart
For the pastry
375g/13¼oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
225g/8oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp ice-cold water
For the Frangipane
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
200g ground almonds
For the Tart filling
8-10 ripe plums, each cut into eighths, stones removed
Firstly, to make the pastry sieve the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl. Tip the cubed butter into the bowl. Rub the butter and the flour between your thumb and fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg together with four tablespoons of ice-cold water. Pour into the flour mixture.
Slowly bring the ingredients together with your hands to form a dough, being careful not to overwork it.
Knead the dough lightly on a clean, floured work surface, then wrap it in cling film and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
For the frangipane, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Crack the eggs into the bowl one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the ground almonds and mix well until combined. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Dust the work surface with flour and roll the chilled dough out thinly. Use it to line one large 25cm/10in tart tin or 6-8 individual tartlet tins8cm/3¼in in diameter. Trim away any excess.
Spoon the frangipane into the tart case so that it comes about halfway up the sides. Smooth over the surface with a spatula and cover the frangipane evenly with the plums.
Bake for 30-40 minutes (15-25 minutes for the tartlets), or until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown and the fruit is tender.
Remove the tart(s) from the oven. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with a generous dollop of crème fraîche.
Recipe found on the BBC Food website.