It’s been a couple of weeks now and i’ve started my treatment for the vasculitis. This involves taking some heavy medication that takes about 4 hours to drip slowly into my veins. It’s boring and makes me feel sick but it also makes me better so i’m not complaining. I’ve got 5 more weeks of quite intensive treatment along with some nasty procedures i’m not particularly looking forward to but i’m hoping that by Christmas I will be as good as gold and ready to get my life back on track. I know I shouldn’t be but i’m actually really looking forward to the next few months… Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas. My three favourite festivals, mainly because of all the wonderful food and treats but it also means a natural slowing down, a gathering of thoughts and time to spend with friends and family… just what my soul needs for a healthy recovery.
plum, fig and honey upside down pudding
This is one of those incredible pudding-cake hybrids that I adore and I think are simply incredible, particularly at this time of year… full of unctuous, big flavours yet truly celebrate the simplicity of the last of the tree fruits. When it comes to the UK plum season I tend to stalk the supermarkets for the large trays of Victoria plums and then buy as many as my conscience will allow. These British gems are to me the only plums all year that actually taste like proper plums. I’ve actually been nursing a final box of them in the fridge for a while and they really needed either jamming or baking so I decided to go all rustic and opt for this pudding. The figs were sitting next to them in the supermarket and whilst they looked beautiful they didn’t taste of anything which was so disappointing, so in to the dish they went where I know that the addition of butter, honey and vanilla will bring out their sunshine.
You don’t have to turn this one upside down. It takes patience and determination, particularly if you’re an idiot like me and decide to bake it in earthenware rather than a cake tin but actually once it had cooled slightly I left it turned upside down and it came out very well.
- roughly 8 plums – halved and stoned
- roughy 4 figs – quartered
- butter – roughly 30g
- honey – roughly 2 tablespoons
- 200g slightly salted butter
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 125g plain flour
- 75g ground almonds
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 large free-range eggs – lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- the grated zest of 1 lemon
i’ve used a large fluted earthenware pudding / pie dish, roughly 23cm wide but a cake tin would work – grease well and line the bottom with parchment – this is essential. pre-heat your oven to 170C fan
melt a generous nob of butter in a frying pan on a medium heat and place the plums and figs into the butter, drizzle with the honey and let them bubble away for about 7-8 mins, then turn the heat off and let them sit in the pan whilst you make the cake batter
mix the flour, ground almonds and baking powder together and set aside
beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl… a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease will work but a stand-mixer with a paddle will make your life more carefree… once light and fluffy, add half the flour mix and half the beaten eggs and beat in until incorporated, then add the vanilla and grated lemon followed by the remaining flour and eggs and beat for 2 minutes until you have a smooth batter
lay the plums and gigs, cut-side-down, into the bottom of you dish or cake tin and then carefully pour the batter over the top and smooth over
bake for 35 mins on 170C fan, then place on a wire rack until beginning to cool at which point, place a large plate on top and turn upside down, then set aside until completely cool. The cake should slip easily out of the dish but if it looks tricky or doesn’t want to budget just serve it like a pudding and to hell with it!
eat and of course, enjoy!