This recipe came out of a happy conjunction of two things. The first was the presence of black plums at the Farmers’ Market today, just crying out to be stewed and eaten with love and nostalgia. The second was, of course, my pantry challenge which has left me completely out of white flour, golden syrup or almond meal, all of which are staples of my various usual crumble toppings (not all together, you understand, but if I can’t do my almondy crumble, I do my golden syrupy one).
I could, I suppose, have been all healthy and used wholemeal flour (something that you will note I’ve managed to totally avoid using during this challenge to date), but I was thinking about my lack of golden syrup and my mind naturally fell to ANZAC biscuits and their coconut-ish flavour. I could mimic golden syrup somewhat with brown sugar, and of course, I’m still possessed of quite a bit of coconut flour…
The combination was rather divine, actually. Two childhood treats that go so well together! But the best part of this whole recipe, I have to tell you, is the *smells*. The plums simmer gently for an hour or two, until the whole house smells of cinnamon and jam. The coconut flour hits the warm melted butter and brown sugar and the cook’s nostrils are instantly hit with the most glorious, fresh ANZAC biscuit scent. And then there’s the smell while it all bakes.
Even if this dessert tasted of cardboard, it would just about be worth making it for the way it makes the kitchen smell. And it tastes a lot better than that…
Your Shopping List1 kg plums, any kind, but I do recommend a non-clingstone variety if you can get one 3-4 tablespoons of brown sugar 1 cinnamon stick 50 g butter 50 g brown sugar 50 g coconut flour 150 g rolled oats
Now what will you do with it?
First, stew your plums. Halve them, remove the stones, and put into a medium-large saucepan with the sugar and cinnamon stick. You don’t need to add any water, because they will produce plenty of their own juices.
Cover the pan and set it over the lowest heat you can manage – I use a heat diffuser – and leave to cook for an hour or so, until the plums are tender and the juices are bubbling.
You can start it off with a burst of higher heat if you like, just try not to burn the sugar if you do. And, of course, you could cook the whole thing uncovered and on a higher heat with a little water to start it off, and that’s fine, too.
While the plums are cooking or at whatever point you feel like topping them and baking them – and honestly, don’t let me make you top them and bake them if you don’t want to, because they are also lovely hot or cold just plain with yoghurt – remove the cinnamon stick and put the plums into a medium-sized oven-proof dish, with plenty of room for the crumble topping.
Melt the butter in a heat-proof mixing bowl in the microwave, and use a fork to stir in the brown sugar and flour. It should come together in a biscuit-crumb sort of consistency.
Use your hands to rub the rolled oats through the mix – this will only take you a minute or so, and it’s fun and makes your hands smell nice.
Top the plums with the crumble topping in a thick layer (or make it a thin layer and freeze half your topping for later – in fact, I’d recommend this, because I think the topping to filling ratio was a little high this time).
Bake at 165°C for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the plums are bubbling hot again.
Eat at any time of day, really, but I like this for breakfast.
This would work with any stone fruit you cared to include, and there’s no reason you have to use a cinnamon stick – half a vanilla pod would do, or some cardamom pods, or what you will.
The current version is naturally egg- and nut-free, and also vegetarian, of course. It would work with Nuttelex to make it vegan or dairy-free; it might also be fun to make this with plain flour and coconut butter, to get a similar level of coconuttiness in a more vegan variety. Gluten-free depends a bit on whether your rolled oats are gluten-free, but rolled quinoa or other rolled grains would also work here. It’s not great for fructose, and while plums and oats are both reasonably low GI, it does have sugar, too, so consume with caution. Though you could probably reduce the sugar considerably in both plums and topping (the plums may only need a teaspoon or two, the topping a tablespoon).
For practical purposes, I realise (oh, how well I realise!) that coconut flour can be a pain to find. I feel that you could easily replace it with desecrated coconut here – you’d probably get a crunchier and crumblier crumble topping, but I can’t imagine anyone complaining about that. You might at a tablespoon of plain flour to help with the crumbliness, too.
In all honesty, it’s very hard to make a really bad fruit crumble. My advice is to do whatever seems good to you, keep track of any changes (so that you can make it again if you like it!), and enjoy!