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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Plums & Oranges

When I got back from holiday the plums on my Victoria plum tree were falling off the tree, they were so ripe. Now there is a rush against time to process them as quickly as possible to preserve them before it is too late.

One of the quickest recipes I know for using plums is Plum and Orange Mincemeat. It is a slightly odd thing, to make a Christmas recipe in August but now is when the plums are ripe and by Christmas the mincemeat will be nicely matured. So last night I carefully chopped up 3lb of plums and mixed it together with the oranges, dried fruit, sugar, spices and brandy.

This morning I had the rather pleasant task of boiling this delightful mixture up for half and hour to meld the ingredients together into a beautiful mincemeat. Doing so filled the house with gorgeous smells, with a hint of Christmas that wasn't so out of place on a rather dismal August day. Even the girls in the living room were led into the kitchen by their noses, asking, "What are you cooking, Mummy, it smells lovely?"

The only problem with this was the anticipation it building in your body - an expectation to eat something yummy. But alas, the concoction was to be sealed into jars with no more than the final lick of the spoon before the washing up.

So with my mouth expecting something delicious to eat I decided to have a go at making a plum and orange drizzle cake. This, fortunately, managed to fulfill my expectations - it was delicious! While plums are in season, spare a few and have a go at making this cake.

6 oz soft butter
5 oz caster sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
1 orange
9 oz self-raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
5 Victoria plums (ripe)
2 oz sultanas
4 oz icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C. gas 4 and line a 2lb loaf tin. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar then stir in the eggs. Grate the zest off the orange and add this to the bowl. Squeeze out the juice. Set aside 2 tablespoons of orange juice for the drizzle and put the remaining juice into the bowl. Sift in the flour and spice then stir until well combined. Finely chop up 4 of the plums and add this and the sultanas to the cake mixture and fold in. Dollop the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin. Destone the remaining plum then place it in a blender with the reserved orange juice and blend until smooth. Add the icing sugar and stir. Prick the cake all over with the skewer then pour over the drizzle. Enjoy.

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