17 October 2010

Plum Crumble

(Adapted from Molly Wizenberg at Orangette, where you can see her lovely photos of it)

This crumble is fast becoming my favorite thing to do with late summer stone fruits (other than scarfing them down over the kitchen sink with their cold nectar dripping off my pointy elbows). I think I've actually dreamed about eating this. Justin says it's his favorite dessert I've ever made! 

This, lovies, is tangy, sweet, spicy fruit rolling out from under a topping that is by turns custardy, crunchy, and chewy. Serious yum.

Last September, on a whim, I rescued a gorgeous box of Italian prune plums from Costco for no other reason than I simply had to have their breath-taking shade of rich blue-red-purple piled into the big emerald green bowl on my island. My favorite color combination. I know God like it, too, because He packed creation full of it! I've been known to buy a few figs just so I could have that arresting play of bright green and ripe purple perched on the edge of a plate. But I digress again, now don't I? 

So as it happens, the very week that I fell under the spell of those painterly Italian prune plums, Molly Wizenberg posted a recipe for them on Orangette, which was serendipitous because I had never bought one in my life and had no idea what to do with a whole box of them other than stare at them with deep and happy wonder. So even though I was sad to slice up my beautiful still-life, I went for it. 

Well, it was FABULOUS. A bit too sweet and rich for our family palate, but fab-u-lous nonetheless.  I couldn't wait to tinker with the recipe-- tone down the sugar, play with a little honey, add some oats and a little lemon juice-- but by then the prune plums, which are only in season for a month or two (Septemberish, give or take a few weeks), were gone.  A whole year later, my family and that emerald green bowl were still waiting for me to come home with another mess of them. 

By now, I've tried this recipe with other stone fruits (even regular plums) and we've like them all just fine. But there's something really special about those Italian prune plums.

So here is Molly’s recipe tripled, but with the tripled sugar and butter then reduced by about a third, and oats added. Because we like to reheat it for breakfast, and oats make us feel better about that.

Plum Crumble

For the plums:

½ cup lightly packed brown sugar OR ½ cup honey
4 ½ Tbsp. unbleached white whole wheat flour (or whatever flour you have)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
2/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
about 30-40 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
Optional: a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups sugar (I use unbleached organic)
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 eggs, beaten well
1 cup unsalted butter, melted

Position a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the seasoning for the plums: the brown sugar or honey, flour, cinnamon, ginger, and crystallized ginger. Add this to the plums, and gently stir to coat. Arrange the plums skin side up in an ungreased deep 9X13 inch baking dish.

In another medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the topping: the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend well. Add the eggs. Fold in the oats. Using your hands, mix thoroughly, squeezing and tossing and pinching handfuls of the mixture, to produce moist little particles. Sprinkle evenly over the plums.

Spoon the melted butter evenly over the topping, and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the plums yield easily when pricked with toothpick.

Serve crumble warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche, thick yogurt, or unsweetened whipped cream.

Note: To reheat leftovers, it’s best to do it slowly, in an oven set to 300 degrees or less.