My Auntie Jean was not in fact my Auntie; she was my Granny’s sister which made her my Great Auntie. When I was at primary school I used to gambol back to my Granny’s house every day to have a sandwich, play some cards and on the best days have some sweets. My Auntie Jean’s house was conveniently on the way to my Granny’s and I used to stop off some days to have a glass of squash and catch up on the latest news.
Some days the two sisters (and on rarer days the three sisters) would meet up and I would tag along. My Granny and I would walk over to Auntie Jean’s house and have a great afternoon trying to coax the tortoise out of his home and watch him happily munch on lettuce. I didn’t think strawberries could get any better than when served with cream but one very hot day we all sat down to a Wimbledon-esque afternoon and for the first time ever I sprinkled some sugar on top. I licked the bowl to within an inch of its life trying to get every last drop of sugary cream out.One of the things I remember about Auntie Jean’s garden was the fruit trees. I think it was back then that I fully appreciated fruit came from trees and not from a packet. Trying to avoid the wasps while picking plums and apples was the aim of the game as far as I remember. Sadly Auntie Jean is no longer with us but her daughter has inherited her fruit trees and was kind enough to let me pick some plums and go back to the garden that I remember from so long ago.
This Plummer Pudding is an unctuous and simple dessert of summer pudding but made from plums.
You will need:
1-2 tbsp water
A loaf of white bread a few days oldStart by halving the plums to remove the stones. The plums I used were so ripe that the stones fell out with minimal persuasion. Put the halved plums into a saucepan with a little sugar and water. Cook over a medium heat until the plums have softened but there is still a little texture left. Taste and add a little sugar if you think it needs it. Remove from the heat and while the mixture cools construct the bread fortress.
Cut your loaf of bread into slices 1-2cm thick and then remove the crusts. Get yourself a bowl and cut a slice of bread to size to fit neatly into the bottom. Cut the slices of bread into fingers and use these to line the inside of the bowl. You can use off cuts from leftover bits to fill in any gaps you have. However you cut and slice the bread it is essential that it is arranged in such a way that not even the most determined bit of juice can escape through a hole. A hole in your bread arrangement is not your friend.
Pour the plums and all their juice into the bread lined bowl and cut out a piece of bread to put on the top. You’re sort of after a plum filled bread bowler hat without a rim. Leave the juice to soak in until cooled and then put a plate (that fits snugly just inside the bowl) on the top of the pudding with a weight on top. The weight is essential to ensure that the bread is evenly and equally soaked from the inside. Place the pudding in the fridge overnight.Determination and confidence is key to removing the pudding from the bowl. Remove the weights and plate and put another (larger) plate on top of the bowl. In one fast and nail biting swoop turn the bowl upside down onto the plate. The Plummer pudding should plop right out but if it doesn't a little encouragement from a carefully placed knife will do the trick. If the pudding is resolutely not playing then I would say serve it straight from the bowl.
This Plummer pudding seemed to glow from the inside. It wasn’t quite as firm as I would have liked it to be and I think that was my fault as the bread was too fresh. The bread had been coloured a wonderful baby pink but the plums inside retained their glorious yellow/orange and so when you cut in to the pudding it was seemingly full of jewels. It would be rude not to serve a Plummer pudding with cream; even better if it can be clotted cream.