Sunday, September 26, 2010
Sweet Melissa Sundays: Plum Preserves and Plum Crumble Bars
When I would stay overnight at my grandma and grandpa's house as child they always had toast for breakfast. There were usually other things too. But toast was a staple. With margarine. Or crunchy peanut butter. Or jam. I liked to have mine with half jam and half margarine or half jam and half peanut butter. Grandma cut her toast on the diagonal. That was so much cooler than in half straight through the middle. Though I don't recall grandma making her own jam, I have to think she had done so at some point in her life. Today I always keep some type of jam or preserves in the house to dress up my toast. But I have never made my own...until yesterday.
The very talented Margot selected Plum Raspberry Preserves for this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe. You will find this easy recipe over on Margot's blog, Effort to Deliciousness. And it really is easy. If you like jam or preserves and you've never made your own you must give it a try. There is something so satisfying about making something from scratch.
I decided to half the recipe and I had just under 3 cups of finished product. I went with all plums (and threw 2 pears in that I had laying around). Raspberries were pricey at the market, but plums were only $0.99 a pound. For my citrus, I used lemon juice and zest. I peeled the plums because the skin is too tart for my taste.
My preserves had a rich amber color when finished.
A couple of cooking notes. I recommend using a very deep pan. The recipe tells you to bring the mixture up to 212 degrees F and then continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes. The boiling mixture likes to splatter a bit every time you give it a stir. It took mine about 10 - 15 minutes to come up to temperature. Once there I cooked it for an additional 25 minutes. It was nicely thickened. I used Melissa Murphy's tip to tell if it's done. I put a small dollop on a plate and put in the freezer for a couple of minutes until it was just cooled. The mixture wasn't runny so I knew it was done.
I opted to cool and store my preserves in the fridge rather than canning them. However now that I've had success with this recipe, I would like to do a full batch and take on canning. As suggested by other SMS bakers, this makes a wonderful holiday gift. In fact, I think I'm going to buy some peaches (which are still nice here in California) and slice them up and freeze them for some late fall/early winter canning. Melissa Murphy has a recipe for Cinnamon Peach Preserves that sounds amazing.
Though I do enjoy toast, I wanted to do something more with my plum preserves. After perusing a few cook books, I decided on crumble bars from Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook. I halved her recipe as well and baked it an 8x8 square dish. I made just the bar/crumble part (her recipe call for apples and cherries) and slathered on my fresh plum preserves on the dough and topped with more crumble topping. I like this recipe because it has oats and cinnamon which are lovely compliment to the plum preserves. Oh, I should comment on how the plum preserves tasted. They were a touch more tart than I usually like my jams. And the apple flavor was prominent enough that hubby couldn't figure out what he was eating. The preserves went perfectly in the crumble bar recipe. The sweetness from the bar offset the tartness of the preserves. It was very oatmeal cookie-esque. Delicious!
Guess what I had for breakfast this morning? Oh ya! And it was paired with a cold glass of milk. Good stuff!
Check out the preserves of other SMS Bakers here.
Plum Crumble Bars
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Apple-Cherry Crumble Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plum preserves
Whisk together oats, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger clumps remaining. Press 4 cups of oat mixture evening into the bottom of a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish. Whisk preserves until they are easily spreadable. Top oat mixture with the preserves. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture evenly on top. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely in dish on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars. Bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.