Strange but true, it never seems to rain when we are working in the orchards. Our secret to defying the rain god? The presence of Laurence, the project manager.
Last Friday was no exception. Despite dire warnings of downpours over Herefordshire, the rain clouds made a detour and skirted round the soft fruit orchards at the Houghton project where we were picking Victoria plums.
Thanks to the generosity of the farmer we also picked half-a-dozen crates of fantastic Purple Pershores from his own orchard to add to last week’s haul. All the plums were stoned immediately and deep-frozen on site ready for use later.
As the Pershores are a little earlier than the Victorias and now at their best, we picked a few extra crates to sell at the Hereford Celebration. We will be at the Kington Show on Saturday 14 September.
To celebrate the arrival of English plums in the shops and farmers’ markets we are posting this recipe for one of our favourite plum cakes. The recipe is adapted from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ Plum and Orange cake in the River Cafe Cook Book Easy.
Plum and Almond Cake
500g Ripe plums
50g Caster sugar
150g Unsalted butter
150g Caster sugar
2 Medium eggs
85g Self-raising flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
100g Ground almonds
30g Unsalted butter
25g Demerara sugar
50g Flaked almonds
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees/Gas 4
Halve and stone the plums and arrange in an ovenproof dish cut side facing upwards. Sprinkle with the caster sugar. Add four tablespoons of water to the dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool.
Grease a 25cm spring-form tin. Line the base with greased parchment paper.
Soften the butter and beat with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. The eggs should be at room temperature to prevent the mixture curdling. Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds.
Spoon half the mixture into the cake tin. Place the plums and their juice in a layer on top. Spoon in the remainder of the cake mixture and smooth over. Don’t worry if there is the odd plum poking through. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Make the topping by melting the butter and stirring in the sugar and flaked almonds. Spread this on top of the half-baked cake. Lower the heat to 160 degrees/Gas 3 and bake for a further 20 minutes. Test with a skewer. If it doesn’t come out clean continue baking for a further 5 to 10 minutes until it does. Cool the cake in the tin