Originally, I meant for this to be a late summer post with a sort of thrifty, make the most of this beautiful fruit before it’s gone theme. However, autumn has crept up before I even quite knew what was happening, with its cooler air, yellows, oranges and ambers. Yesterday I had to wrap up in a wooly scarf and saw the first pumpkins for sale in my greengrocer’s. Last night’s pub trip tipple choices included mulled wine (although I find that shockingly premature).
It has been a busy time with work and lots of changes afoot. Time has just slipped away before I’ve had a chance to get my head around it, so I’ve been pretty reluctant to give up summer. We’re hoping (fingers and toes crossed… or hold your thumbs as we say in Sweden) to be moving across that great London divide, the Thames, before Christmas. To a new home, new neighbourhood, new neighbours and hopefully, in time, a new kitchen. It’s a lot of work, even for someone who has moved on average every other year of her life.
So the point is, I’m behind on the blog. So much so that seasons are flying past before I have time to post about them. I thought about saving these recipes for next year, but then realised that they all would work equally well made with plums, medlars or even figs, which are wonderful in the autumn. Or save them for next August/September.
Apricot and Coconut Tart
This recipe is based on one by Donna Hay, but uses a gluten free pastry made out of coconut flour.
You will need:
For the pastry
125g coconut flour
75g coconut oil
1 whole egg and 1 yolk
1.5 tbsp maple syrup
For the filling
2 egg whites
75g desiccated coconut
55g caster sugar
8-10 apricots, pitted and quartered
whipped cream and flaked coconut, to serve
1. To make the pastry, sift the coconut flour into a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Slowly melt the coconut oil in a small pan over a low heat, then add to the flour along with the whole egg and yolk, maple syrup and about 3 tbsp of cold water. Mix to form a crumbly dough and chill for about 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160 F/Gas Mark 4. The dough will be difficult to roll out, but you can press it into a loose-bottomed or fluted tin, about 24cm in diameter, using your fingers to spread out. Chill until needed.
3. To make the filling, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the coconut and sugar and mix well. Spread over the base of the coconut pastry and scatter over the apricots. Bake for 16-20 mins until the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked. Allow to cool and scatter with flaked coconut and serve with lot of whipped cream.
As I mentioned, this was supposed to be a thrifty post, filled with ways to use up an abundance of late summer stone fruits. This apricot kernel ice cream is a perfect example. It may sound strange, but the inner kernels of apricot or peach stones give a lovely, almond-like flavour that works particularly well in ice cream. The stones also keep well, so you can collect them as you go. I haven’t tried making this with plum kernels, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that worked too.
Apricot Kernel Ice Cream
Adapted from Food 52.
You will need:
50 apricot stones
500ml whole milk
350ml double cream
300g golden caster sugar
7 egg yolks
1. Wrap the apricot stones in a tea towel and use a mallet to crack open their outer shells and bash the kernels a fair bit into shards. Place all the kernels in a large pan with the milk and cream and bring to a boil. Pour into a jug or bowl and allow to cool, then place in the fridge overnight.
2. The next day, bring to the boil again and simmer for a minute or two. Place the sugar and yolks into a bowl and whisk by hand for a minute or so until frothy and light. Sieve the milk mixture into the bowl and stir to combine. Transfer back into the pan and stir over a medium heat until thick and custardy, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
3. Sieve back into the bowl and allow to cool completely then refrigerate for a few hours. Churn in an ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until ready to eat.
Classic Apricot Jam
This jam recipe is THE thing on a gum-cuttingly crusty baguette, slathered in salted butter. But it has other uses too, swirled through greek yoghurt, topped with flaked almonds. Or you could use it as a filling for tarts or jammy biscuits. It would be wonderful topper for a vanilla cheesecake.
You will need:
1kg fresh apricots
600g jam sugar
knob of butter
1. Wash and drain the apricots well, then halve and remove the stones. Place in a large jamming pan with the sugar, mix well and cover and set aside for a good few hours.
2. Tip the fruit into a large pan and slowly bring to a simmer, allowing all the sugar to dissolve. Bring to a rolling boil and allow to bubble away for 5 mins, then use the saucer method to see if the jam has reached setting point. Take off the heat and add a knob of butter, stirring to melt and disperse any foam. Transfer into sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool spot.
Now here’s a recipe that will work at any time of year and with any summer jam you’ve got an excess of – a perfect treat for when those wonderful fruits are no longer available. The cake is super moist and not too sweet, which is why the syrupy jam works so well here. It goes a bit sticky and carmelised when dotted on the top of a cake like this, which I love. I urge you to try it!
Apricot Jam and Ricotta Cake
You will need:
100ml extra virgin olive oil
200g golden caster sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
200g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 jar apricot jam, plus a little extra
1. Preheat the oven to 175C/150 Fan/Gas 4. Grease a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin and dust with flour.
2. Beat together the ricotta, oil, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl until smooth and runny. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Add to the ricotta mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Scrape the cake batter into the cake tin and gently smooth over. Dot teaspoonfulls of the jam over the top of the batter, swirling in slightly. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
4. While the cake is cooking, mix a tablespoonfull of the jam with a little hot water. Once the cake comes out of the oven, lightly brush with the mixture and then place on a wire rack to cool completely before releasing out of its tin. Serve straightaway with a dollop of yoghurt or creme fraiche.
I came across these beautiful greengages in a local fruit and veg shop the other day and had to buy them. When I was a kid, we had a hammock hanging between the plum trees in our garden in Sweden. Endless summer hours were whittled away, snoozing, reading and swinging underneath their leafy shade. Looking up, I would sometimes spy a tiny unripe green plum – a promise of later treats. As with all fruits and veg, plums come into season much later in Scandinavia. The plum harvest was notoriously and particularly unpredictable – if we were lucky we would be able to taste one or two when they’d just started to turn a patchy yellow-purple, but more often than not we’d be long gone by the time they were ripe.
These honeyed green plums reminded me of all the recipes I missed out on, so I couldn’t resist taking some home for the jams and tarts I’d always dreamt of making. But I should warn you that this is small-batch cooking, I’m afraid, as I only bought a kilo of the fruits home. The jam recipe makes two small jars, just and the tart recipe is for a mini dessert, enough for a 18cm pie dish. This turned out to be ample for the two of us for dessert over a few days, including a trip to the proms (the queue is an excellent excuse for a fancy picnic style dinner). To serve more, you could of course double the recipe and use a larger pie dish.
Greengage and vanilla jam
Makes 2 jars
You will need:
1 small vanilla pod
400g caster sugar
knob of butter
1. Wash the greengages well and place in a large pan with 100ml of water and the vanilla pod. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20 mins until the fruit is completely soft.
2. Add the sugar off the heat and stir to dissolve completely. Bring back to a rolling boil for about 15 minutes, until setting point is reached. You can test for this by placing a small plate or saucer in the freezer. Drizzle a little hot jam over the plate and allow to cool. If the jam is ready, it should crease and create a ripple-like wrinkle effect when pushed across the saucer with a finger.
3. Fish out any stones which should by now how floated to the surface. Add the butter and stir until melted and any scummy froth has disperesed. Pour the jam into hot steralised jars and allow to cool a little before sealing.
Greengage and Calvados Tart
You will need:
1/2 pack ready-made shortcrust pastry or make your own
125g brown sugar
400g greengages, pitted and patted dry
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Roll out your pastry to line a small pie dish, circa 18 cm in diameter. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
2. Meanwhile, place the calvados and 50g of the sugar in a small pan. Simmer slowly until thick and reduced by about half – this should take about 15 minutes. Allow to cool a little, then combine all but a few tablespoons with the fruit, sifted ornflour, cinnamon and remaining sugar.
3. Tip the greengages into the pie shell and bake for 45 minutes, until the fruit filling is soft and jammy but not liquidy. Cover with tinfoil if the pastry is getting too brown.
4. While the pie is in the oven, return the remaining calvados to the pan and reduce to a syrupy consistency. Drizzle over the warm tart and serve with a dollop of greek yoghurt or ice cream.
When I was younger we had rhubarb growing in our garden. It was a seemingly magical plant, with massive leaves and bright stalks and I was always amazed that this almost tropical-looking beast could be eaten. We put it in crumbles and pies mostly, normally picking the stalks on rainy days when baking seemed like a good activity for two bored and restless little girls. I was incredibly sad when it was cut down a few years ago by an over-enthusiastic lawn-mowing family member. Still searching for forgiveness for that one and that particular patch of the garden seems strangely empty now.
We’re right at the end of the rhubarb season – you may still be able to get a few pink stalks in the supermarket. For me, it’s a summer fruit rather than a spring one, as the season is a bit later on in Sweden than in the UK (as with all fruits and veg due to our northerly location). Rhubarb is not just for puddings, it goes exceptionally well with oily fish like mackerel and can be made into sharp cocktails and cordials. Perfect for sipping on a hot summer’s day. The tart flavour may not be to everyone’s taste – my husband hates the stuff even when it has been doused in sugar- but I urge you to give one or two of the easy recipes below a go and see if you aren’t converted.
Rhubarb and Ginger Custard Crumb Cake
Makes16 to 18 slices
You will need:
For the crumble
100g unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra
125g golden caster sugar
140g plain flour
For the cake:
400g rhubarb, quartered lengthways then cut into 3cm bars
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 balls stem ginger, finely chopped and 2tbsp stem ginger syrup
200g plain flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g icing sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
250ml good quality custard
1. Preheat oven to 175C. Butter a 22cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment. To make the crumble, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Toss the rhubarb with the brown sugar, 1 chopped stem ginger ball and 40g of the flour. Combine the remaining flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Finally, add the flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the custard. Stir in the remaining stem ginger and the ginger syrup. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and then spread with the rhubarb mixture. Finally top with the crumble.
3. Top with rhubarb mixture, then top with prepared streusel. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake (beware that the custard will still be a little moist, however). Allow to cool completely then cut into slices.
Rhubarb and Vanilla Cream Soda
You will need:
200g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm chunks
75g golden caster sugar
1 split vanilla pod, seeds scraped
soda water or fizzy water and ice, to serve
Put the rhubarb chunks, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds into a saucepan along with 100ml of water. Slowly simmer until the rhubarb is soft and completely collapsed, adding more water if necessary. Allow to cool a little then strain in batches through a fine mesh sieve to get all the lovely pink syrup out. It may help to add more cold water to the mixture. Allow to cool completely. Pour the syrup into a bottle and chill until needed. When ready to serve, pour over ice into tumblers and top with soda water.
Rhubarb and Cardamom Compote
You will need:
400g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm chunks
juice and zest of 1 orange
2 cardamom pods, crushed and ground in a pestle and mortar
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
Place all of the ingredients in a medium sized pan and simmer over a low heat for about 20 mins, until the rhubarb starts to collapse and is soft and spreadable. Add a splash or two of water if starting to look dry. Serve with yoghurt for breakfast or over ice cream for a simple pudding. Keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a soft spot for blood oranges. I love everything about them: their bitter-sweet taste, the element of surprise- how ruby red will they reveal themselves once stickily peeled? But mostly, I love their short-lived season. In my privileged little corner of East London, I can have whatever I want, whenever I want it. A bag of plum heirloom tomatoes? A bottle of artisan gin? A plate of snails and bone marrow? All a five minute walk away from where I’m sitting right now. So a fruit that is in season for only a few short weeks, that you actively have to hunt down? That’s a real rarity. I can have the plumpest blueberries, crunchiest green beans and juiciest apples all year round, but you try finding blood oranges in August. Go on.
They are also in season when we need them the most, because despite a few days there where Spring seemed like it might not be a complete impossibility, winter seems to still be clinging on for dear old life. So these bursts of sunshine are a real saviour in these desperate times. There aren’t many weeks left to make this marmalade, but I did just see the last of the Seville oranges at my greengrocer’s. Get out there quick!
This is based on Nigel Slater’s marmalade recipe in the Guardian a few years ago. I’ve added blood oranges for a bit of sweetness, Sevilles can be a bit too bitter for some. You can find the original recipe here.
Bloody Seville Orange Marmalade
Makes 6 jars
You will need:
10 Seville Oranges
8 blood oranges
1.5kg golden caster sugar
1. Remove the skin and pith from all of your oranges and lemons. There are lots of different schools of thought as to how to do this, Nigel suggests scoring with a small knife into quarters then peeling. Others halve the oranges, squeeze out the juice and then hollow them out before cutting each half into larger chunks. Your call.
2. This is the slightly tedious bit. You need to cut all your peel chunks or quarters into shreds- either thick or thin depending on your preference, or a bit of a mixture of you can’t quite be bothered. Do this in batches, sit down, put the radio on. It’s a sticky, messy, time consuming business, there’s no way around it.
3. Reserve all the pulp, seeds and any juice spillage. Squeeze all juice into a measuring jug and make up to 4.5 litres with cold water. Pour into a large bowl and add all of the sliced peel. Place the squeezed out pulp and seeds into a muslin bag or tie in a cloth and leave to soak in the juice overnight.
4. The next day, transfer the juice and bag into a large pan. Bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer until the peel is soft and almost translucent- about 1.5 hours. Lift out the bag and bring the pan back to a boil with the sugar. Once the bag is cool enough to handle, squeeze out any residual juice into the pan with rest. Put a saucer in the freezer.
5. Keep at a rolling boil until the marmalade reaches setting point. You can test for this by dolloping a teaspoon of the mixture onto your cold saucer. Once cool, it should crinkle when pushed with a finger. If it doesn’t, you aren’t there quite yet. My marmalade took just over an hour to get to this point, but do keep testing as yours might take less time.
6. Pour or spoon the marmalade into sterilised jars and leave for about 10 minutes before sealing. Leave to cool completely before storing, or cracking open and spreading on hot buttered toast.