Just because we ‘eat sensibly’ during the week doesn’t mean that we don’t treat ourselves at the sometimes. And this weekend was no exception
recipe, taken from Diana Henry’s wonderful Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, has
been tempting me for some time. This recipe is a gentle introduction into the fine world of blending cream, sugar and flour to produce something sublime, yet vegan AND gluten free.
recipe involves a vanilla scented shortcrust base that is easily
whipped up in the food processor (although could be mixed up by hand),
chilled for half an hour and then pressed into a baking sheet. It is
then topped with stoned and halved plums or damsons, sprinkled with a
generous amount of sugar and baked until fruit is verging on sweet,
sticky collapse. The fruity shortbread is then glazed with hot apricot
jam, left to set and cut into squares.
Aside from the dazzling,
gem-like finish, this is otherwise a fairly unassuming looking
cake/biscuit(?), with a flat base. Once you bite through the sticky tart
and sweet fruit into the fragrant crumbly pastry, you are transported
(with a bit of imagination) to a baroque-style café in Vienna, sipping hot chocolate and watching children sweep by in velvet coats on ice skates.
There is something timeless about these simple sweetmeats, so easy to make and yet incredibly complex on the taste buds.
used some frozen plums left over from late Summer, but you could also
use slices of pear or apple, fresh blackberries, greengages or
gooseberries. The fruit doesn’t need to emit too much liquid as it cooks, lest you should suffer a soggy bottom, although a light dusting of fine cornmeal (polenta)
on the base before you layer up the fruit should soak up too much ooze
if you really fancy trying it with strawberries or raspberries.
simple, sweet treat that can be made the day before you want to serve
it, looks just as charming served casually with a cup of tea or a rich, creamy latte
for a decadent pudding.
CAFE SPERL'S PLUM SQUARES (from Diana Henry's Roasted Figs, Sugar Snow)
200g Doves Farm SR GF Flour
100g Vegan Spread, not fridged
175g Caster Sugar
1 Tsp.Egg Replacer mixed with 1 Tbsp Water
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
675g Plums or other soft fruit, de-stoned if necessary
2 tbsp Sugar
200g Redcurrant or Apricot Jam
make the base, place the flour and spread in a food processor fitted
with the plastic blade and process until the mixture resembles
breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and salt, mix again.
Add the mixed egg replacer and vanilla and process until it forms a rough ball.
Scoop out of the processor bowl, form into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for half an hour.
Preheat oven 180c.
Halve the plums and de-stone.
Into a lined baking sheet 8 x 12" square, press the dough out.
Press the plums into the dough rectangle in rows, making just one layer.
with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and bake for 35-45 minutes until the
fruit is soft, sticky and caramelised. The pastry, where exposed, should
be a golden brown colour.
Leave to cool.
Melt the jam with a little water and brush generously over the fruit. It should be gleaming and glossy.
Leave to set, then cut into 3" squares, larger or smaller if you'd prefer.