If there is one fruit that heralds the start of autumn and signals the end of the long days of summer, it must be the English plum.
Soft, sweet and juicy, the home-grown varieties are a world away from those imported, sour specimens that remain as hard and dry as snooker balls, no matter how long they linger in the fruit bowl.
At the moment, the main variety is the wonderful Victoria, which will be shortly followed by the equally good, but slightly sharper Marjorie, both of which make excellent eating and cooking plums.
If you do not have a plum tree in your garden, the chances are you know someone who does who may be kind enough to offer you some to make a delicious plum cake, tart, crumble, jam or a savoury chutney.
I made my first crumble of the season this week using plums from my own garden, although I have noticed that good quality English plums are now readily available in the supermarkets and they are, I’m glad to say, priced very reasonably.
There is really nothing quite so comforting as a crumble on a chilly evening when the nights are beginning to draw in.
This recipe uses oats which give the crumble a lovely texture and makes it even more filling – great if you are feeding a hungry family.
Served with custard, vanilla ice cream or just fresh cream, it is a favourite with old and young alike and it deserves its place as one of our most loved traditional desserts.
* 750g English Plums
* Tablespoon of Butter
* Two to four tablespoons
of Caster Sugar
* 170g Plain Flour
* 100g Butter
* 70g Porridge Oats
* 70g Caster Sugar
Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) 350f.
Stone the plums and put them with any juice in a deepish ovenproof dish about 20cm wide.
Scatter over the sugar to taste (plums will become more acidic with cooking) and leave while you make the topping.
Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture is like chunky breadcrumbs.
Mix in the oats and sugar and tip on top of the plums. Distribute evenly.
Place the dish into the hot oven and then cook for 40 minutes.
Leave to cool slightly before serving as it will be scorching hot.
* Lindsey Dickson is a writer, recipe developer and food stylist.
For more of her recipes, please visit her website at www.theeatingtree.com