Thursday, August 2, 2012
But also changed
I lost a poem this week. I wrote the poem, oh, maybe ten years ago and set it aside. This week, for various reasons, I went looking for it and could not find it. I searched through every scrap of paper and every flash drive I had saved from high school through college and beyond (and in the process discovered that I wrote a lot of bad poetry in high school and college. Though, I suppose if ever there is a time in your life when you should be writing bad poetry, high school and college is it). I could remember fragments of the poem. I could even remember the shape of it on the page, but I could not find the poem itself. So I was left with no choice but to try and reconstruct the poem from the little bits and pieces that remained in my memory. It was the poem redux but also changed.
Lately, I've been doing a lot of fiddling with old things out of necessity, as above, and also out of my own need to fiddle. For instance, I wasn't satisfied with how grainy and granita-like David Lebovitz's chocolate sorbet came out using only water and the lack of an ice cream maker method, but I wanted to keep it a non-dairy sorbet and not a sherbet. So I simply swapped one cup (the cup you don't boil, as coconut milk doesn't like be boiled) of the two cups of water with coconut milk. The resulting sorbet was perfect-rich and smooth, with a slight coconut undertone.
Likewise, I have started fiddling with my plumble recipe, not because it needed fixing, God no- it is pretty perfect the way it is- but because I have been making it a lot this summer and I was getting a little bored. I wanted to move beyond the holy trinity of plums, vanilla and wine. Perhaps this is sacrilege, but I've never been very good with dogma.
I had been thinking a lot about plums, cinnamon and almond. Yotam Ottolenghi has a beautiful looking recipe in his Ottolenghi cookbook for plum muffins with marzipan in which he makes cinnamon-seasoned plum compote that is then folded in to a muffin batter that has been studded with marzipan. I haven't actually made the muffins, though I intend to eventually, but the flavors intrigued me. I decided to see if they would play nicely in plumble. So, hoping to mimic Ottolenghi's compote, I left the usual wine out of the fruit and added some cinnamon. The muffin recipe doesn't call for any vanilla, but I couldn't part with it, so I left it in too. For the topping, I went whole wheat flour for the simple reason that I had no white flour in the house. I also added some almond extract to the batter, hoping to gain some of that marzipan-like flavor. The resulting plumble was kinda great. Without the boldness wine, the cinnamon was allowed to shine and the combination of the whole wheat flour and almond gave it a sweetness with a mild almond grace note. It was a different, gentler version of plumble. Like the poem, it was plumble redux, but also changed.
Plumble Redux, but also changed
A note: a friend of mine recently told me that when making plumble, he swapped some of the vegetable oil for coconut oil, which made the topping more crisp-like. I think that sounds fantastic. So if any of y'all wanna play around with that, please do, and let me know how it turns out.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 oat flour
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbl soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Sift together dry ingredients. Add the soy milk, almond extract and vegetable oil. Mix until crumbly.
8-9 plums, sliced into about 16 crescents
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla (or a 4 inch vanilla bean, if you have one)
Combine ingredients in a bowl.
Place the fruit in a 8 inch baking dish. Scatter the topping in clumps over the fruit. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until the plums are bubbly and the topping is browned.