Pear and plum crumble
December 25, 2009 § 3 Comments
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful time – eat plenty, drink to your fill and enjoy the presents (and the company)! Winter’s the best season for food, as you find that the majority of winter dishes are a culmination of rich flavours, drawn out from slow-cooking or comforting combinations that never fail to hit the spot. One of my favourite winter dishes is pear and plum crumble, a deviation from the usual apple crumble that is perhaps more suited to the autumn season.
The variations of pears and plums that you can find are endless. Plums are especially flexible, as they warm up most winter desserts, but the first bite into a ripe plum can take you back to late summer afternoons. The different varieties you might find at your local store may include Fortune plums, which are burgundy from the outside, with yellow flesh (these are probably the most common variants you could use for this recipe), to Black Diamond plums which have dark red skin and plump red flesh.
Most plums will have a juicy, sweet flavour once they have ripened, and it is at this point that they are perfect for putting into a crumble. With pears, I tend to be more picky about which pears I will use in this crumble. Taking pink and red as the theme of the dish, Blush pears are the best variant to use as their sweet flesh is soft and blends well with the plums while the crumble is baking. Alternatively, Red Williams pears, when ripe, can be equally delicious in this dish.
The crumble itself is a wonderful comfort food that doesn’t have to be limited to the winter season, but it is especially warming when it’s chilly and miserable outdoors. Using dark soft brown sugar imparts a touch of a treacle-like taste to the topping, which caramelises and blends with the fruit juices to create a warming and satisfying dish. You will need:
- 200g plain flour, sifted
- a pinch of salt
- 150g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 200g dark soft brown sugar
- 450g plums, stoned
- 4 ripe blush pears, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp water
- a handful of rolled oats
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Sift the flour and pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl, add the cubed butter and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. If the dough starts clumping together, just use your fingertips to break larger pieces apart. Add 150g of the dark soft brown sugar and the handful of rolled oats to the mixture and combine well.
Quarter your plums in order to stone them, and then slice each quarter in half. Set these aside. Thinly slice the pear (you can peel the pears if you really want to, but I like to keep the skin on). Measure out 50g of the dark soft brown sugar into a large mixing bowl and add 3 tbsp of cold water to it, mixing well to produce a dark brown sugar syrup. Mix together the fruits and the sugar syrup, gently, ensuring even coverage.
Tip the fruit mixture into a buttered dish; a 9-inch baking dish will do. Then sprinkle over the topping evenly. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden.
A deliciously comforting dessert that can be eaten for breakfast, as a quick snack, or a treat after dinner. Best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a little poured double cream.