he monsoons are here with a vengeance and I’m suddenly reminded of the song “Raindrops keep falling on my head” where the singer takes the sun to task for “sleeping on the job”. It’s been pouring so heavily here this past week that as much as I love the rains, I’m seriously wishing there was some way to appeal to the sun to put in a guest appearance once every couple of days.
The monsoons signify the end of the year’s bounty of mangoes, but it also means that it’s the season for fresh corn, delightfully juice Indian Himachali pears and stone fruit like cherries, peaches and plums. And the best thing is that they’re not the imported variety but all locally grown.I tend to give the plums a miss because we usually get rather tart ones locally, and if we want sweet ones then we have to buy the exhorbitantly priced and rather huge ones that are imported from the US. I’m by nature suspicious of large sized, perfectly proportioned fruit that seems to keep for ever on the shelves. Nature did not intend fruit and vegetables to grow to a pre-determined shape, size and perfect colour and I also find such fruit generally to be lacking in taste/ flavour.
But getting back to the subject of plums, I found this season’s fruit to be quite sweet with a just a hint of tang. They tend to get ripe and soft and mushy rather quickly so if one doesn’t eat them up, then the best bet is turn them in jam/ preserves with really tender ginger which is also coincidentally in season. Otherwise, there are lots of other things to make with them.Asking for suggestions from friends on Facebook guaranteed a whole host of suggestions some of which I am going to try out. I thought I would start out with a Buckle. Just in case you used to be like me and thought that a buckle belonged on a belt and not on a dessert plate, a Buckle is also a dessert that combines fresh seasonal fruit with a rich cake batter, and mostly, a streusel topping.
Apparently, the most popular fruit to make a Buckle with used to be blueberries but virtually any seasonal fruit can be used. There are a couple of ways of making a fruit Buckle. Some people layer fruit on a base of cake batter and bake it. Others divide the batter into two, layering one half in the bottom of the pan and mixing the other half with the fruit before pouring it in.Usually, this is topped with a streusel mixture. While this cake bakes, the cake batter rises up around the fruit, and causes the streusel to buckle giving it a crinkly appearance. This is what gives this cake/ dessert the name “Buckle”!
I chose to leave out the streusel and just sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar instead, and I guess that’s probably why my Buckle didn’t quite buckle. Not that it mattered much to us because the proof of all this was not in the buckling but definitely in the Buckle, the eating of it, and the crumbs that were left on the plates!You can substitute any other fruit of your choice and use this recipe to make a Buckle. Serve this Plum And Almond Buckle plain with coffee/ tea or as dessert with cream, ice-cream, thick yogurt or vanilla custard.
The monchrome image of plums is my submission to Susan's and Cinzia's Black & White Wednesdays edition #93 that's being hosted by Satsuki at Stregatto Cuciniero.Fresh Plum & Almond Buckle(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Ingredients:60gm unsalted butter, melted3/4 cup caster sugar1 egg1 cup all-purpose flour1/2 cup coarsely powdered almonds1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1/8 teaspoon ground allspice1/4 tsp salt2/3 cup milk1 1/2 to 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick plum wedges2 tbsp granulated sugar
Method:Brush a 9” square or round pan (I used a 11” by 7” rectangular pan) really well with butter and keep aside.Put the melted butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well, scraping the sides down. Beat in the vanilla extract as well till mixed well.In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, allspice and the powdered almonds. Now add this mixture in two lots, alternating with the milk also in two lots, beating enough to combine everything together.Scrape the batter into the buttered baking tin and lightly smooth the top. Arrange all the plum wedges randomly on the top (do not press them down) and then evenly sprinkle the 2 tbsp granulated sugar over this.Bake at 180C (350F) for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the top starts turning golden at the edges and a skewer pushed through the centre comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Let the Buckle cool in the pan for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then unmould carefully and cool on a rack. Cut into 10 rectangular pieces and serve.This recipe serves 8 to 10.