One unexpected benefit I found shortly after beginning my blog was connecting with like minded food people all over the world. One such find was Caroline who writes ‘All That I’m Eating’ hailing from Berkshire in the South of England. I’m now not sure how I found her but it was like looking into a mirror across The Pond. Caroline is a local, seasonal eater, scouring her Farmer’s Market and foraging; writing about her adventures along with recipes she makes which also include ingredients from her garden. Her restaurant reviews recall for me all the time I’ve spent in England and she affords a sense of ‘arm chair travel’. I envy her local ingredients unavailable in the U.S. and have fun attempting to find equivalents here as she does in the U.K. with recipe ingredients I use.
We found we both really enjoy infusing liquor as well. We’ve shared recipes and each tried them with what we have available locally. Caroline has indulged my spastic, desperate Anglophile emails when getting a wild hair to make things like Hedgerow Gin in Colorado where our hedgerows are nothing like those feeding the originating English recipes. I love her approachable recipes for honest food featuring beautiful seasonal ingredients. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite but one that caught my fancy I have yet to try was this fantastic Victoria Sponge Cake made uniquely by weighing the eggs and ensuring the sugar, butter and flour weigh the same instead of specific measurements.
Caroline was very kind to ask I do a guest post for her blog and has been patient with me as I navigate the summer for fall, hoping to find a unique recipe representing America but one also able to be made in England. She has just published my Guest Post which you can read too. I’ve included an excerpt below and encourage you to check out her blog. It’s one of my favorites!
I have a personal soft spot for vintage recipes, often reinvigorating those from my multigenerational family recipe box or from vintage recipe collections I’ve purchased online. I’m not a fussy baker; I admire a pristine, flawless Martha Stewart caliber cake but it’s just not in my DNA to produce one myself.I also love a rustic dish that seems like real people have and would enjoy eating it.
Of late I’ve become a bit taken with rustic Americana desserts gone by the wayside. Their names are captivating and strange; Pandowdy, Brown Betty, Grunt, Slump and Buckles. Each name has very practical roots despite not leaving the dish sounding incredibly enticing! These desserts all center on seasonal fruit, are generally simple and fast to prepare (all the better in my book). I liked the idea of sharing one of these on All That I’m Eating as they are usually stemming from our original U.S. Colonists which would mean the Mother dish resides most likely in England. I’d love to know what you think inspired the version we ended up with in early America!
Plums are just coming into season in Colorado and I understand Damsons are beginning in England as well. I’ve never had a Damson Plum and quite envy the gin Caroline has made with them, begging her to describe the flavor which of course is a bit like explaining a color to someone without sight. I have a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share in a local farm and this week left with a large bag of beautiful mixed plums in all sizes and colors.
Despite sounding like a dish featuring fruit with bad posture this Plum Slump is a lovely dessert, not too sweet, simple and relaxed. This same dish is either known as a ‘Slump’ or a ‘Grunt’ depending on where in the U.S. it is consumed. The south would call it a slump because as it cooks the sweet dumpling atop the fruit relaxes into a slump. In New England it’s referred to as ‘grunt’ due to the sound made by the steam escaping through the dumpling as it cools. Regardless of the less-than-tantalizing names, the dish stands on its own and does not disappoint!
This is a very versatile dessert really able to be made with any type of fruit or a fruit mixture. Instead of varying from the plums I used four varieties turning the thickened fruit on the bottom a gorgeous red tone. The recipe calls to simmer the fruit then add a bread topping which cooks into a soft, sweet dumpling.
I clearly was flying my Yank flag when making this, completely neglecting a conversion to weight measurements! I had full intention to weigh as I baked but was so excited I forgot. Caroline has come to my rescue with a conversion chart. A note on the flour, I am gluten free so made this with gluten free flour but regular flour can easily be substituted.
- 3 cups plums, pitted and sliced
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup water*
- ¾ cup all purpose flour (regular or gluten free)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, cold
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- In a large sauce pan combine the plums, water and ½ cup sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to simmer on low heat.
- In a medium bowl stir together the flour, remaining sugar (1/4 cup), baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Add butter cutting it into the flour mixture with handheld pastry blender or a dull kitchen knife until resembling crumbs.
- Add buttermilk to flour mixture and stir just until lightly mixed. Do not over mix.
- Spoon small mounds of dumpling dough on top of the simmering fruit mixture (remember it will ‘slump’ together to cover the mixture). Simmer covered until a toothpick inserted into the dumplings comes out clean about 15-20 minutes. Note: dumplings will cook through but will remain softer in texture. Serve warm.
*should you want to experiment a bit, substituting a light dessert wine for some or all of the water would add some unique flavor to the plum mixture.