Plum Crumble with Cinnamon-Nutmeg Crème Fraîche

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Baking with plums is new territory for me. I love plums, but in my book they are for snacking not for baking. However, I read this post on House to Haus last week and thought that perhaps I was being shortsighted. It was time to try a plum dessert.

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I am thrilled to report that the experiment was a huge success. Rob referred to the plum crumble tonight as "plum crack". It is THAT good. I'm not sure I can give the plums full credit - the topping is crunchy and sweet and perfectly complements the plums - but certainly the tart plums help to really set this crumble apart. I've actually made this twice (in the past week). The first tart was made with plums from the grocery store. The second tart was made with plums from my friend Doug's plum tree, which he let me raid while we were over for a barbecue on Saturday. With the number of plums I picked, I could make 10 crumbles but I'll try to resist my gluttonous urges and do something healthier with the remaining plums. You, however, should find some plums and make this crumble!

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My crumbles, like my pies, err on the side of more fruit. I prefer a high fruit to crumble ratio, so keep that in mind if you make this. The original recipe called for 12 plums; I used 16 when I made it with grocery store plums and about 20 when I used plums from Doug's tree (they were a bit smaller than the store-bought plums). The original recipe also calls for candied ginger. I love ginger in many forms, but I just don't like candied ginger, so I omitted it. Check out the original recipe here if you like it and want to include it - I am sure it is delicious! That said, without the candied ginger, this was divine. If you are convinced that you won't like baked plums, make this with whatever fruit you do like. The topping is perfection.

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I always like a little dollop of something on my baked fruit desserts. If you have vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, either would be a nice compliment. If you want to make something special, I'd recommend homemade crème fraîche with a little taste of fall (see below for what I added). The dominant flavor is still the tanginess of the crème fraîche, but the cinnamon and nutmeg complement the crumble well.

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Plum Crumble

Adapted from the NY Times

Total time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings 

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1½ tablespoons plus 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ plus ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

16-20 purple Italian or prune plums, cut in half and pitted

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 well beaten egg

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center.

2. Thoroughly mix brown sugar, 1½ tablespoons flour, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and ground ginger. Add to plums and mix well. Arrange, skin side up, in ungreased, deep 9-inch pie plate.

3. Combine remaining sugar, baking powder, flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Stir in egg. Then, using hands, mix thoroughly to produce little particles. Sprinkle over plums.

4. Slowly drizzle butter evenly over crumb mixture. The butter has a tendency to roll down the topping and over the rim of the pie dish, so do this step carefully. Bake the crumble for 30 to 35 minutes. The crumble is done when top is browned and plums yield easily when pricked with cake tester. Remove from oven and cool.

5. Serve warm or refrigerate for up to two days or freeze well covered. If reheating, bring to room temperature then warm at 300 degrees. If desired, serve with ice cream, whipped cream or the cinnamon-nutmeg crème fraîche.

Cinnamon-Nutmeg Crème Fraîche

1 cup of crème fraîche (so easy to make at home using this recipe)

1 tsp freshly-ground nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

Combine the spices with the crème fraîche and adjust to your liking!

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