Life is full of imperfections. We are all full of imperfections, physical flaws that are easily visible and character flaws that most of the time go unnoticed and leaves everyone surprised when they suddenly become visible to others. But there is goodness in everyone and this applies to fruit and vegetables that appear imperfect.
Today’s pie is another of my chosen recipes for the Fall and our Halloween special preparations. It is made out of plums that were inconsistent in appearance, some parts too ripe and some too tart and I encourage you to make use of fruit that does not look as appealing. Locally in private gardens and estates, produce is cultivated in a pesticide-free environment and we are too accustomed to seeing perfect fruit that is available in large stores, specially cultivated for mass production. Do not forget the fruit in your gardens and in your local countryside…. this is how nature meant us to be … full of imperfections but with a lot of goodness inside…..
I assembled this pie in a glass pie dish with a layer of plums laced with fresh thyme and a crumble mixture following the most perfect crumble recipe from The Guardian . I baked this in the oven as one would prepare a normal crumble. After it was cooked, I layered thin slices of plums and drizzled them with thyme honey and put it back in the oven to roast the plum topping. So from imperfect plums I ended up with a very appealing roasted plum appearance arranged on Felicity Cloake’s perfect crumble….
You will need :
Plums, quite a large quantity but as much as you desire, I used 2 kg, destoned with skin on
2 spoons Demerara sugar for dusting in top layer
Caster sugar to sprinkle in plums, quantity according to your preference
I used fresh thyme leaves mixed with the bottom layer of the plums but this is optional
4 spoons honey, I use local thyme honey
For the Crumble
100g plain flour
50g ground almonds
125g chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
35g demerara sugar
35g caster sugar, plus extra for the fruit as required
Handful of porridge oats
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Combine the flour, ground almonds (if using), and butter in a food processor or large bowl, and pulse briefly, or rub with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs with a few larger lumps. Add the sugars and stir through.
2. Sprinkle with a little cold water and rake through with a fork until you have a lumpy, crumbly mixture. Put this in the freezer for 10 minutes, or if making ahead, in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
3. Meanwhile, put in half the prepared plumsin a lightly greased, shallow baking dish, and sprinkle with sugar – taste it first to see how much you think it needs. You can also add any spices at this point (½ tsp ground cinnamon or mixed spice). I sprinkled my plums with fresh thyme leaves and also two spoons of honey.
4. Arrange the crumble over the top of the fruit, don’t press it down and sprinkle with oats or nuts if using. Bake for about half an hour, until golden and bubbling
5. When the crumble has cooled down, overlap the rest of the plums on top very neatly. Drizzle two spoons of honey and some Demerara sugar and bake in a hot oven 200 C until the plums start to caramelize.
Serve hot or cold, with ice cream or custard. I personally like it without !