We all know what to do when life gives us lemons, but what does one do with an abundance of plums? I would have found myself struggling with this quandary when my BFF, Cathy, showed up with a box of freshly picked plums, except she also came armed with three delicious sounding recipes. No complaints here.
Since I lean strongly toward savory flavors, I rarely bake, but on occasion, I turn on my oven and make the break to the sweeter side. Usually this occurs when I have guests or, in this case, find myself with unexpected gifts. Conscience of not wasting this precious harvest, I get the creative juices flowing and often step into unknown territory. This time, two of Cathy’s recipes were for muffins so that is the direction I found myself going. I have made and eaten many muffins in my time but I never tasted one using this dark purple stone fruit with the sweet flesh. I was in for an unexpected taste treat that I suspect will be reappearing in my kitchen for many years.
Here is how is goes down.
PLUM POPPY SEED MUFFINS Makes 12 standard muffins
Recipe by Deb Perelman, excerpted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
6T unsalted butter, melted and browned and cooled + extra for buttering muffin cups (about 2T extra)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
¼ c (50 grams) granulated sugar
¼ c (50 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
¾ c (180 grams) sour cream or a rich full-fat plain yogurt (I used yogurt)
½ c (60 grams) whole wheat flour
1 c (125 grams) all-purpose flour
¾ t baking powder
¾ t baking soda
¼ t salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2T (20 grams) poppy seeds
2 c pitted and diced plums, from about ¾ lb. (340 grams) Italian prune plums (although any plum variety will do)
2 big pinches of flaked sea salt, such as Maldon, optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly butter twelve muffin cups.
- Whisk the egg with both sugars in the bottom of a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then the sour cream or yogurt.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds. Stir them into the egg mixture until it is just combined but still a bit lumpy. Fold in the plums.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. If desired, sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar and flaked sea salt. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Rest the muffins in the pan for 2 minutes, then remove them from the tin to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Deb’s notes: Generally, I think muffins are best on the first day, but these surprised me by being twice as moist, with even more developed flavors, on day two. They are just a little less crisp on top after being in an airtight container.
It is a rare occasion when I follow a recipe word for word but since I was unfamiliar with how the plums would play with the other ingredients, I followed the recipe as published with two exceptions. Admittedly, I could not resist putting my signature on it, so I added the optional topping of the turbinado sugar and a bit of contrast with the flaked sea salt. If you are unfamiliar, Turbinado is a raw sugar with coarse blond colored crystals and a mild molasses flavor. It makes a great crunchy and sweet finish and is used for exactly that purpose. The flaked sea salt (most familiar is the brand, Maldon) is as described and used for finishing both sweet and savory dishes. Both of these products take up permanent residence in my pantry. Once you get used to including them, you will make room for them as well. In this application, they did not disappoint. The sweet/salty crunch complimented the softness of the plums without diminishing the crunchy nuttiness provided by the poppy seeds. I liked that the muffins were not overly sweet which allowed the natural sugar in the plums to shine. By the way, I recommend you do not skip the step of browning the butter as it adds an unforgettable flavor bump. Yum! Thanks, Cathy for the plums and the recipe ideas.
You know it is “harvest season” when friends visit bearing produce or you walk your dog and come home with a bag a cucumbers and peppers from the neighbors. If I had to describe this time of year in a word, it would be ABUNDANCE! Secondary descriptives would be freshness and color. This season makes me really happy and as the weather turns a bit cooler, I find myself drawn to the kitchen and searching for new ways to spread the love. I urge you to do the same, whether it is something new or a beloved family favorite, keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Until next time, I send wishes for a great harvest to you all. May it be full of love. Jeanne