The markets are flooding with the last prune plums of the season. I can never walk past the piles of them, dark and smooth, like big purple bullets. I've made Pflaumenmus (see my book for the recipe) and plum cake and poached plums, too, but this past week, a bowl of plums I'd bought the week earlier from a vendor who warned me that they were very sour, almost too sour, languished on my countertop. Hugo didn't want any and I didn't blame him: they were too tart for eating raw.
So last night, then, after Max left and Hugo was asleep, I decided to go back to one of my all-time favorite recipes on this blog, Marian Burros' plum crumble. But this time I more than doubled the fruit. I wanted a mostly fruity dessert, with the crumble topping as a jaunty, crunchy cap. I kept the amount of candied ginger the same and only added a touch more sugar, hoping that the plums would turn into a tangy jam beneath the rubble. I was aiming for a crumble that I could eat for breakfast with yogurt with nary a second's thought and one that would use up the last of my plums, of course, too.
I'd forgotten that the crumble topping is unusual in its assembly - you massage a beaten egg into spiced flour and sugar and baking powder, drop this streusel of sorts onto the fruit and only then drizzle (inundate?) the whole thing with melted butter.
In the oven, magic happens. The plums soften and melt, the topping rises and browns and turns almost cookie-like, but with soft pockets of yielding dough here and there. I hadn't been mistaken, this truly is one of the best recipes I know, and this new version, heavy with fruit, is perfection. It's best eaten with a puddle of creamy plain yogurt. At least, that's how I like it best - the sourness of the yogurt a wonderful companion to the tart plums and sugary top.
Serves 6 to 8
34 purple Italian or prune plums, cut in half and pitted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1. Place plums in medium bowl. Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center.
2. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground ginger and the candied ginger. Add to plums and mix well. Arrange plums skin side up in ungreased, deep 9-inch pie plate or baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar, baking powder, remaining flour and cinnamon and the salt. Mix well. Stir in egg. Using hands, mix thoroughly to produce little particles. Sprinkle over plums.
4. Drizzle butter evenly over crumb mixture and bake 30 to 35 minutes. Crumble is done when top is browned. Remove from oven and cool.
5. Serve crumble warm or refrigerate for up to two days or freeze, well covered. If reheating, bring to room temperature, then warm at 300 degrees.