Apparently it’s a bumper year for plums. Living on the fourth floor of a flat in Bethnal Green, I’m somewhat distanced from it all. But I’ve heard that there is a frenzy sweeping the countryside.
People with plum trees are all a-panic. They can’t pick the plums quickly enough. Ripe fruit is dropping from heaving branches, lying bruised on the ground and demanding to be cooked immediately. But these poor plum tree owners are too distracted trying to pick the fruit so it escapes injury, to have the time to cook it all.
Now, I’m the kind of person who publicises the fact that I’ll always give a bag of bruised fruit a happy home. And so I ended up with some Victoria plums yesterday, relieving a plum-tree owner from a fraction of his glut.
I made rice pudding with plum compote. Skin for me, rice pudding for Thomas. The perfect split. Perhaps the biggest revelation though was what a delicious cold breakfast it made today.
Bircher muesli is in vogue right now, and it’s essentially cold porridge. So surely cold rice pudding could catch on too. I think it’s delicious. But then I love school-style semolina, hard boiled eggs, pickled onions and roll mop herrings, so cold rice pudding fits neatly into my repertoire of old-man food. It’s hard to second-guess food trends. But you never know, maybe I’ve actually got a very progressive palate, and cold rice pudding will be on the Starbucks shelves next to bircher muesli any day soon…
Rice Pudding with Plum Compote
120g pudding rice, rinsed under coldwater in a sieve
1.2 litre of full fat milk
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder (optional)
4 tbsp caster sugar
15g butter, cut into cubes
1-1.5kg plums, washed, de-stoned, and cut into quarters
2-4 tbsp sugar (to taste)
1 tsp cinnamon
(Rice pudding based on Paul Hollywood’s traditional recipe)
1. Put the rinsed pudding rice in an ovenproof dish, pour over the milk. Stir in the skimmed milk powder and caster sugar, and then dot the cubes of butter on top. Put in a 150°C oven for 1.5 hours.
2. For the Plum Compote: Put 50ml of water in a saucepan. (I find that plum compote can be very moist, so not a lot of water is necessary. But a dash of water in the pan helps create steam, and stops the plum skin from sticking straight to the metal base).
3. Add the plums to the pan. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Cook on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until the plums have collapsed.
4. Crack open the thick skin that will have formed on the rice pudding, and serve (either including, or leaving the skin to one side, dependent on taste!)
- De-stoning plums can be a bore. And if they’re not perfectly ripe, then you can lose bits of the flesh which cling onto the stone. Because of this, lots of people don’t bother cutting and de-stoning plums before making a compote, and just cook them whole. Either pick out the stones afterwards, or warn diners that it’s a game of dental Russian Roulette, and encourage a game of “tinker, tailor, soldier…”
- Experiment with the spices in this recipe. Nutmeg is a traditional addition to rice pudding, and lots of people cook plum compote with star anise.
- If you’ve got leftover plum compote, and leftover rice pudding, then whack a meringue on top, and turn it into a Surprise Pudding (more commonly known as a Queen of Puddings).