Summer fruits in North India are the best! You get the most amazing cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, mangoes, melons, watermelons, litchis and the like and it’s a glorious feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. After having our fill of the fruits I thought to make full use of them and create some desserts to further showcase their awesomeness.
I’ve showcased some fruits in desserts such as my peach crumble cake and coconut panacotta with mango and watermelon popsicles but I just couldn’t make anything with cherries this time. This year my fruit guy had such amazing cherries that entire kilos disappeared into our stomachs almost as soon as they arrived into the house! Unfortunately cherry season is quite short so any cooking with them got missed this time.
One day at my local fruit stall, I saw these lovely ripe, purple, juicy plums which I literally fell upon and then racked my brains to see what could be done with them. I first made a plum curd, then since plum curd cannot be eaten on its own, thought let me add almond meal to it and bake it. It tasted delicious but a bit too buttery because in a curd, the eggs and butter are already cooked. Then I thought to just mix everything together and bake it. So I did, and the result surpassed my expectations. Word of advice, try to get sweet ripe plums so you won’t have to add more sugar to it. The sour, tangy taste and the colour will come from the skins so DO NOT cut them out.
This pie is buttery, tangy, sweet, chewy on the top and melts in the mouth in the middle. I’ve made it three times in the last three weeks and it has not lasted long in the house. The second time I made it I thought to add less butter and sugar and while it tasted good to my dinner party guests (yes, I still am the daft one who experiments at all the wrong occasions), the first attempt was far better. So I stuck to that and the result is there below for you to recreate. I hope you like it as much as my family did. You can have it on its own or pair it with vanilla ice-cream. Please follow the oven heating instructions carefully.
If you have any left over, you can refrigerate it in an airtight box and when ready to serve it, preheat your oven to 180°C with both top and bottom heating on and put the pie in the centre rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Don’t have the pie straight out of the oven, you won’t get the wonderful chewy texture of the upper crust. With that sage advice, I will let you get on with it.
For the base
200 gms digestive biscuits
100 gms butter (melted but not hot)
For the topping
10 ripe plums stoned and cut into chunks or slices
1 cup sugar
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup butter (100 gms)
2 eggs lightly beaten
Get Started (Pictorial steps below)
- Preheat your oven at 180° centigrade with only the bottom heating on.
- Line a 9 inch square baking tin with butter paper or parchment paper making sure to line the sides too.
- Whizz the biscuits in a food processor till crumbly. Add the melted butter (it should not be hot) and whizz till properly mixed. You can do this by hand in a bowl too if you do not have a food processor but make sure you don’t leave any chunks.
- Pour the mixture into the lined baking tin and press down all over with a spoon till it’s a compact, even square covering every inch of the tin.
- Bake in the middle rack of the preheated oven for 10 minutes and remove immediately and allow to cool.
- Put the plum chunks into a heavy bottomed pan and boil (without adding any water) on medium to medium-low heat with the lid closed for 15 minutes until they soften. Keep checking to see that it’s not sticking to the pan. After 15 minutes remove the lid, crank up the heat a bit and stir continuously for another 10 minutes till the plums become a rich ruby coloured sauce. Caution, the plum sauce will start spitting when it gets thicker so reduce the heat when that happens.
- Strain the sauce into a bowl till you get more or less all the liquid and pulp leaving behind just about a tablespoon of fibre and make sure you get all the yummy sauce from the underside of the strainer.
- Whisk the butter and sugar together till it has become light and fluffy, add the plum sauce and whisk more.
- Then add the almond meal and incorporate well. Lastly, add the eggs into the mixture and beat well. Pour the whole mixture over the biscuit base.
- Bake in the centre rack of the preheated oven still at 180°C with only the bottom heating on for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes change the setting to keep both top and bottom heating on for another 20 minutes and then remove the pudding from the oven and allow it to cool. This switching to top and bottom heating will give the top of the pudding a lovely crust while the inside remains moist and soft.
- After the pudding has cooled completely, flip it onto a plate, remove the bottom and side linings, cover with your serving dish and flip it over. The delicious yumminess is all yours for the inhaling.
Important notes: Make sure your pie is completely cooled before flipping it out on to your serving dish. If it hasn’t cooled fully, it won’t harden and will fall apart and you’ll have a nice gloppy mush mix instead of a beautiful pie.
Make sure your oven has an option to turn on or off the top heating element as you don’t want your pudding to burn from the top and remain undercooked from the bottom. If you do not have this option, you can place an oven tray between the rod and the pudding and remove the tray after 20 minutes.
The most important thing to note when baking is to Know Your Oven. Every oven behaves differently. There have been cakes that have called for 40 minutes of baking time and mine has taken an hour. This knowledge is critical for your baking success. For this pudding, take a look at the pictures to get an idea about how your pudding should look and what texture it should have when ready.