I have tried very hard over the decades to like fruit salad – you know the sort I mean, chopped apples, pears, bananas, grapes - because it’s good for me, but really – I just can’t get excited about it. I always enjoy it if someone else has made it for me but for some reason my own home-made fruit salad just doesn’t hit the spot – maybe I’m fed up with it by the time I have finished all that peeling and chopping !! And I would rarely order it as a dessert if we were eating out – especially if things like sticky toffee pudding or crème brulée were also on the menu – there would be no contest !!
However, this hot fruit salad is one I have made over and over again and always enjoy. I copied the recipe from a magazine many years ago. The title is misleading as it should really be “warm fruit salad” or “spiced poached plums” – because essentially that’s what it is – plums poached in wine with sugar and cinnamon.
It works really well with any stone fruit, and with all those punnets of lovely nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries in the shops at the moment the timing was just right.
My own youngish victoria plum tree is struggling this year. It’s smothered in hard little green fruit and if we ever get enough sunshine to make them ripen I should be in for a good crop, but everything is struggling in the garden just now, in this horrible warm, grey and muggy weather that we are having.
Quantities are listed in the recipe below but what I usually do is to choose a baking dish according to how many I have to feed, cover the bottom with prepared fruit, pour on one or two glasses of dry white wine – although this time I used rosé wine because that’s what we had open and it worked really well – sprinkle on 3-4 tablespoons of light muscovado sugar, add a cinnamon stick and bake.
It’s a very versatile and forgiving recipe and works perfectly with any stone fruit. This time I used (roughly) 6 apricots, 6 plums, 4 nectarines and a handful of cherries.
According to the instructions you should baste the fruit a couple of times during cooking but I rarely remember to do this and it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s a great pudding to throw together and leave in the oven whilst you get on with everything else.
We usually have it warm with a little cream or some crème fraîche. It’s also good with ice-cream, yoghurt, cold rice pudding (I know, I know !!) or just by itself. It is also delicious cold the next day, especially if you strain the fruit and warm the liquor to serve with it.
It works as a rustic pudding or a fancy dessert – if you serve it in pretty dishes on a plate with a spoonful of ice-cream and a piece of home-made shortbread on the side.
“Hot” fruit salad
1kg mixed stone fruits such as plums, nectarines and apricots
110g light muscovado sugar
150ml dry white wine
1 cinnamon stick
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan/gas mk 4.
Wash the fruit, cut each one into half and remove the stone. Cut the larger fruits into quarters so the pieces are roughly equal in size (this doesn’t matter too much).
Choose a suitable baking dish large enough to hold the fruit in a single layer – some overlapping is fine but it shouldn’t be piled up. Butter the dish and arrange the fruit in it.
Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the fruit and pour over the wine. Tuck the cinnamon stick into the dish somewhere near the middle.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the fruit is cooked and knife-tip tender, basting once or twice during cooking.
Serve warm with cream, ice-cream or crème fraîche.