Munchkin Gramps and Grandma S have a plum tree in their garden, which to be honest, I've never paid much attention to in the past. In recent years I have become a fruit-forager of the highest order though, and so as soon as we pulled up their drive last weekend I had already noted the abundance of plums just waiting for someone to come along with a basket. Sometimes that tree crops well and sometimes it doesn't apparently, but this has been s a good year, and so Grandma S was happy to let me take a few. I like eating fruit on its own best, but The Scientist is a confirmed fan of fruit in desserts, and so with the plums rapidly approaching over-ripeness, we both got to satisfy our dessert leanings.
It's one of the happy symbioses of our house that I like baking fruity desserts as much as The Scientist likes eating them, and I just take a small tasting tithe - which frankly doesn't put much of a dent in the dessert as I always over-estimate how much I'm making. This time he chose a pie and I decided to take the opportunity to make a dessert I've had my eye on for ages but have never got round to. It's a blackberry galette in Nigella's Domestic Goddess, and I've always been taken by the picture which looks wonderfully rustic and golden. Or, as Nigella describes it, 'a free-form pizza-like tart'. The dough has cornmeal in it which is apparently good for soaking up the juices, and the plums were so juicy that I thought that might be a particularly good thing. I like making pastry - I have colder hands than anyone I know so I feel I ought to be good at it - and this was very straightforward - just a bit of mixing and rubbing in (or a few blitzes in the food processor but that would take all the use out of my perpetually freezing hands). The original recipe adds creme fraiche to the blackberries but I just sliced my fruit on to the pastry disc, scattered some sugar and cinnamon over the top, and baked it as it was.
It looked nice (the pictures didn't come out too well) though the pastry didn't blow me away. I'm not much of a pastry fan though, and The Scientist liked it. He didn't notice the cornmeal but perhaps that was because of all the cream he'd doused it in! I thought it did give the pastry an interesting texture and flavour, so if pastry's your thing then I'd go for it. Anyway, I was pleased I'd finally made it, and the pie-eater in the house said he'd happily have it again, so I guess that's chalked up as a success. I went blackberrying picking in the lane near our house last night (as I say - always on the look out for fruit foraging opportunities!) so I may try it again in all its original Nigella glory. If the berries last that long :)
Plum galette (based on Nigella's blackberry galette from Domestic Goddess)
Made one smallish pie (two Scientists; possibly half a Michael Phelps)
60g plain flour
30g polenta/fine cornmeal
1 scant tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
50g cold butter
15g (1 tbsp) vegetable shortening
1-3 tbsp ice water, or enough to bind [I found that 1 was more than enough]
about 5 or 6 ripe plums
approx 3 tbsp caster sugar, or to taste
about 1 tbsp cinnamon, or to taste
To make the pastry, mix together the dry ingredients, then add the butter and shortening, and rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs (or use a processor). Add enough water to form a dough. Form it into a ball, wrap in plastic and put in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Roll the pastry out into a rough circle, transfer to a lined baking sheet, and scatter sliced plums on to the top. I cut them over the pastry to catch the juices as well. Leave a good margin round the edge. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, then dampen the edges of the pastry with water, and roll them over to make a nice rustic looking edge. Put in the oven for about 20 mins or until pastry is cooked and golden.