Ever notice that some of those peaches, apricots, and to a lesser extent plums, you buy in the supermarket never seem to ripen properly – no matter how long you leave them. Well I was getting pretty tired of this and looked around for something to do with them. Rooting around in the kitchen presses, I found some Manuka honey that had gone too thick to spread on bread. And in the garden, we have a most prodigious rosemary bush. So an idea was born.
I mixed four tablespoons of honey with an equal quantity of water and dissolved in a small pot over a medium heat with a nice sprig of rosemary and splash of balsamic vinegar. After the syrup had thickened a little, I turned off the heat and left the pot to one side to infuse. A punnet of fruit was stoned, cut into halves and placed in a lightly buttered ovenproof dish. Pour over the syrup, after first removing the rosemary sprig, and pop into an oven preheated to 200°C. After about half an hour you have a wonderful dessert, which you can serve with a dollop of cream, yoghurt, etc.
This works really well with apricots and peaches. With red plums you can add a twist. Proceed as above but keep back a couple of tablespoons of the syrup. Melt about 25g of the good dark chocolate and stir in the syrup. Add this to the plums about halfway through cooking. Absolutely heavenly.
This delicious dessert is a real blast from the past – just like Mammy used to make! I got this recipe from Darina Allen’s Simply Delicious 2 book. You can vary the filling depending on which fruits are in season. Just remember to adjust the sugar as rhubarb is considerably sourer than most other fruit. The original recipe was in imperial units so some of the amounts are a little uneven. Also granulated sugar was used to sprinkle over the rhubarb but it turns out just fine using all caster sugar.
Makes: 10 portions
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 45 mins approx
25cm ovenproof plate (Pyrex or similar)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Wipe the rhubarb clean with a damp cloth, top’n’tail and cut into 1cm pieces. Reserve. Break one egg into a cup and mix to use as an egg wash.
Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add 50g of caster sugar, the bread soda and a pinch of salt. Rub in the butter. Break one egg into the butter milk and mix until the egg is incorporated. Make a well in the flour and add most of the buttermilk mixture. Mix to a soft but not sticky dough, adding as much of the remaining buttermilk as is necessary.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two pieces, one a bit bigger than the other. Take the smaller piece and spread it out with your hands to cover the plate. This forms the base of the cake. Pile the rhubarb onto the base and sprinkle with all but a couple of teaspoons of the remaining sugar. Egg wash the edge of the base. Roll out the remaining dough to a size big enough to cover the rhubarb and base completely – about 10cm bigger than the plate diameter. Seal the edges and trim any scraggly bits.
Brush with egg wash and make a small hole in the top to let the steam escape. Bake in the oven until nicely golden – about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and leave to cool for about 15 minutes to allow the juices soak into the base.
Serve with some freshly whipped cream.