Thursday, August 26, 2010


It's raining sideways in a typically late-August way. I have my best selection of over sized autumnal-coloured clothes on, giving up but not forgetting the summer that has just swept past us. This always happens after my birthday. Tuesday was all bright sunshine, windy but warm; presents were unwrapped in the garden and dinner was crammed into a open-windowed, open-doored wooden hut, with candles and wine the only fire to warm us through. Next day, and the sky has well-and-truly let loose.

As an eater rather than a gardener - as much as I try from my flat window - I have never quite appreciated nor liked the phrase: 'Oh yes. We've been needing this rain'. How could anyone truly think that? Surely England could do with more sunshine than anything. The harsh reality is, if I am to continue being the eater that I am, it is well-worth training myself to nod happily at the heavy downpour, because as we all know, what we eat needs to eat too.

So, in my oatmeal jumper, red shorts, grey tights, thick socks and brown boots, I am slowly warming to the arrival...ahem, sorry...continuation of big rain.

To celebrate the almighty rainstorm, as it turns plums from green to red, and brings blackberries to the bushes, here is my recipe for:


ingredients for

80g softened butter, unsalted
80g light brown soft sugar
enough halved plums to cover the base an 10 inch tin. (approx 15 small Victoria plums)

250g softened butter, unsalted
125g dark brown soft sugar
125g light brown soft sugar
4 medium free range eggs
juice of half a lemon
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
80g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

In a large cake tin, preferably a 10 incher, paste the base with the softened butter and sugar. Having halved and stoned the plums, place them side-by-side, skin side up, on top of the butter mix. Depending on your harvest of plums, try to fit in as many halves as you can as the fruit makes the cake. If your plums are not fully-ripe don't panic. Mine weren't. The slight sourness complements the sweetness of the batter and the plums will be caramelised by the sugar and butter beneath them.

In a large bowl mix the sugars with the butter until light and fluffy. Crack in the eggs one at a time, mixing in each one thoroughly before adding the next. The mixture will be wet and ready for the flour.

Sieve in the flour, baking power and salt and gently fold into the egg mix with the ground almonds. Do not over-mix. You don't want the flour to stiffen the other ingredients.

Carefully pour the contents of the bowl into the tin to cover the plums. Place into the oven for 50 minutes. If the cake starts to burn on top cover with a grease proof baking sheet. Test with a metal skewer - if it comes away clean, bingo. If not, whack it back in for a bit. Turn carefully onto a wire rack and cool. Serve warm.

The rain will be enviously tapping on the door for some before you know it...A serious cockle warmer.

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