Sydney in summer, January 2020. And what a summer. The drought and the bushfires dominate the literal and emotional landscape, as we swelter through hot, hazy and humid days.
Despite these conditions, there is still amazing summer fruit in abundance, to bake, preserve or simply to devour fresh as an antidote to the heat.
I love stone fruit in high summer. I’ve been jam making with apricots and with blood plums, fantastic for their rich ruby red colour.
I made muffins a while back with yellow fleshed plums, using my current go-to muffin recipe adapted from Matt Stone’s The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste. Here is the recipe from 2018.
This recipe celebrates plums, baked in the muffin mixture and also as plum pieces on top of each muffin, but you could just as easily make it with other stone fruit – apricots, peaches or nectarines.
2 free-range eggs
140g raw sugar
1 Granny Smith apple unpeeled and grated
1 plum, diced
75ml vegetable oil
10-12 pecans, chopped (optional)
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
3 plums, cut into segments, to decorate
A few pecan halves, to decorate (optional)
Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and when the mixture is foamy, slowly pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.
Whisk in the apple, diced plum and oil. Stir in the chopped pecans, if using. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. Even leaving the mixture for a few hours in the fridge is beneficial.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced, 180 degrees C non fan-forced.
Grease a standard muffin tin and line 6 holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture, adding as many plum segments as you like on top to decorate, and pecan halves, if using.
Put the muffin tin in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there, using a skewer to check if cooked. From my experience, in my oven, they take about 20 minutes.
Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin and place on a wire rack. I leave the baking paper on as the muffins are easier to store.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Great on their own, as they are so moist, but also good with butter, or Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.