Upside Down Damson Cake

It’s officially fall, although it has already felt that way for a few weeks here in Bristol. As the wind begins to pick up some chill, I have been toying with different recipe ideas to make use of the autumn harvest. So, I will continue on with the damson theme and use up the fruit I picked the other weekend.  I found a basic recipe used for a pineapple upside down cake, making it the same way but using freshly sliced damsons instead. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 heaping cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping cup (or more) of freshly cut damson fruit
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (for batter)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

 
First, make sure your damson fruit is chopped as it can be a pain in one’s backside to slice them free from the pits.

 Next, cream the butter and brown sugar. Once smooth, spread it on the bottom of a round, lined baking tin.


Place the cut damsons, flesh side down, on the creamed butter and cover with a generous dusting of more brown sugar. Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 350 F / 180 C.

 In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients until incorporated and smooth. If you have a bowl or hand mixer, I would recommend using it. I don’t have one, but just had to make sure the butter was really softened before I added everything else.

Pour the batter on top of the damsons and let the mixture settle.

 Place in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Try not to over bake otherwise you might end up with a dry cake.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely. I would say, for at least 30 minutes before you attempt to turn over. I used a spring tin, so undid the hinge and placed a serving plate over the top, while carefully grasping the bottom disc.


And there you go, Damson Upside Down Cake! The fruit was cooked to perfection and I just love how damsons turn a lovely burgundy colour when baked. It didn’t rise as much as I hoped, but still had air bubbles and was very moist. This cake was not very complicated, and the fact that you can mix all the batter ingredients in one bowl means I’ll be making it again. The only thing missing was a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side! I really enjoyed the flavour as well. It had just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the damson tartness. I hope my next few recipes will turn out just as nice as I hope to bake some apple based treats. Wherever you are, take time to enjoy a bit of the fall foliage as winter will be here soon enough. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Flourless Damson Cake

  
  
As fall is officially upon us with no more warmth in sight, I have been looking forward to lots of baking. So, the other weekend I spent the afternoon at Grimsbury Community Farm in the Kingswood area, which is in the eastern part of Bristol.

 
I heard that there were still lots of blackberry bushes bearing fruit and some damson plum trees with lots of purple treats ready to fall off. 

  
There were also some sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, birds, guinea pigs, donkeys, a gorgeous horse, and  huge pig. 

  
  
As you can see, it was a gorgeous day, so we spent a few hours enjoying the warmth and walking the paths around the farm. Admission is free, so it’s a great day out for families and those who enjoy the outdoors. There are activities throughout the year such as apple pressing, carol singing, and a wassail event in January. If you happen to spend some time there, there’s a donation box which goes toward farm maintenance and animal care.

  
We came home with a nice bit of fruit and I was most interested in seeing what I could transform the damsons into. I had never seen or tasted a damson before coming to the UK. It is a small pitted plum, slightly larger than a big grape with a tangy flavor. The taste is intensified when cooked down into a jam or baked.

  
Since I was visiting a friend who isn’t too keen on wheat, I thought this would be a great challenge to make a wheat-free flourless bake. If you’ve been watching Bakeoff, you’ll recall how this is sometimes a difficult task. The first obstacle is to get it to rise. The second is to prevent it from being too dry, without adding too much moisture. I found a pretty good recipe and with a few changes, I think this may be a good bake. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 180 g ground almonds
  • 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 cup chopped damsons
  • damson jam for glazing

Heat your oven to 180 C / 350 F and grease or line a round baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, coconut, sugar, and salt. 

  
In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs.

  
 Then add the mashed banana, coconut milk, melted butter, vanilla, and almond essence. Once combined, add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients.

  

Using a whisk, mix the mixture until it is very smooth. Make sure that the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.

  
Set that aside, and chop up your damsons. This was very time consuming as the fruit and pits are very small. I would recommend doing this ahead of time if possible.

  
Once that is done, pour the batter into the baking dish, and evenly place the damson fruits on top.

  
Bake for 45-55 minutes depending on the heating efficiency of your oven. I baked mine for 40 minutes, then carried on for another 15. 

  
I forgot to take a photo of the cake as a whole, but you can still see how it turned out. I glazed it while warm with the rest of the Cornish Meadows Damson jam I picked up in Cornwall this summer. I was initially worried that the cake didn’t turn out well as I did not achieve a rise at all. However, the flavor was just lovely! It was also pleasantly moist, more like a pudding as opposed to a drier cake. We ate it with some vanilla ice cream, but custard would be just as delightful. I will definitely be making this again, but may try apple, pear, or pineapple for the top. Not bad for being wheat free! Keep your eyes out for the fall harvest and try to find some local produce to enjoy wherever you are. You’d be surprised on what you can make with just a few key ingredients and a quick Pinterest search. Stay warm Bristol, thanks for reading, and Happy Eating!

  

Easy Peasy Fig Parcels

Baked treats are awesome, but finding the time and energy to whip something up from scratch isn’t always easy. That’s where this recipe comes in. These parcels are super easy and the prep time really isn’t too long. And since it uses fruit, you’ll get a nice dose of vitamins and finer as well. Here is what you’ll need:

 

  • 6 large fresh figs
  • 1/3 cup chopped apricots
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • juice from a 1/2 lemon 
  • 6 sheets filo pastry
  • Butter to baste pastry (ignore the egg in the picture)

First, peel the figs. Decided to try it this way instead of spooning it out.

 

Place three of the figs in a bowl and marinate them in the lemon and honey.

 

Chop up some moist apricots into small cubes until you have about 1/3 of a cup.

 

Add the apricots and almonds to the figs in the bowl and mash the ingredients together.

 Cut the remaining three figs in half and place one half in the middle of some filo pastry.

 

The best thing about filo pastry is that you can form your parcels as you like. Just try to make sure there are enough layers on the bottom.

   Surround each half fig with a spoon full of the mashed fig mixture.

As you fold over the pastry, brush each bit with melted butter to avoid the dough drying out.

 

Place each parcel on a lined sheet. Heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F and once hot, place the parcels in for 20 minutes until you have a nice golden brown.

 

Once ready, take out the oven and let them cool a bit as the filling will be hot.

   
All in all, these turned out pretty good. As these do not have any processed sugar in the original recipe, they would be a great alternative for those who want a lighter dessert.  If you desire something sweeter, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top for a more decadent treat.  Alternatively, you can just add more honey or apricots as well. I’m sure you can make lots of variations using different combinations of autumn fruits, but for me, this is good for now. Stay tuned for more fall treats coming soon! Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

 
  
  

Fresh Fig Tarts

 

Fall is officially here in Bristol, but to be honest, summer left weeks ago. Such is life, eh? To lift one’s spirits, a good bake makes everything a little better. So when a dear friend provided us with the fresh figs as seen above, I thought what better way to kick off September than with a fresh fig tart. It’s a fairly simple recipe and works just as well with store bought pastry. If you’re interested in rolling your own dough, just follow the instructions below. Here is what you’ll need:
 

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • 4 -6 tablespoons water
  • 3 large figs
  • 1/4 cups sultanas
  • 2 teaspoons honey 
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

First, grab a medium size bowl and spoon out the figs. Make sure the figs are ripe and soft for the best flavor.

  
Mash up the figs and add the sultanas and honey. Stir it up and place in the fridge while you prepare the dough.

  
 

Grease your tart tins with butter. I used my pudding tray which works just fine. Preheat your oven to 320 F / 160 C. In a bowl, incorporate the flour and the cold, cubed butter. 
 

Mix with your hands until it becomes grainy and crumbly. At this point, add the almond essence. Incorporate the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough begins to come together. 

 Roll out the dough on a floured surface and use something round to cut out the pastry shell. I used the top of a lid, but you can also cut it by hand. 

 

 Blind bake the pastry for about 8 minutes or so. If you have pastry beads, go ahead and put them in. 

  

Take the pastry out of the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Spoon the fig filling into each tart and top generously with sliced almonds.

 

 Place back into the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry and almonds turn golden brown.

  

Let the tarts cool for 10-15 minutes, and there it is, fresh fig tart! These were really easy to make, and the process is a lot faster if you buy your pastry. I think I’ll even add some cinnamon and nutmeg next time for a warmer flavor, perfect for rainy afternoons. Or on any given day in England. Keep an eye out for fresh figs in the grocery store or in your friend’s yards. They can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or incorporated into baked treats such as these lovely tarts. Fig trees can be quite abundant, so if you find yourself with a nice harvest, Pinterest will provide you with lots of ideas! I’ve already got some in mind for the next post. Until then, stay dry, thanks for reading, and Happy Eating!