Firstly, remember that you can still win a copy of The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake .... by going here. Right, now onto the rest of the post!
I have a terrible confession to make. I am lucky enough to own a lovely freestanding icecream maker (like this one), bought as a birthday present by my parents when I was 21. I don't use it very often. I like ice-cream, but the palaver of making sure it's clean and preparing the mixture to freeze means that it rarely gets used. Add to this the distinct lack of summer sunshine in my part of the UK and you'll start to understand why this amazing machine is sadly neglected. I hang my head in shame.
However, J has friends with plum trees and at this time of year they are laden with fruit, ripe for the picking before the wasps get the lions share (although J's friend P has more plums than even the wasps can eat!!!). J is therefore often over-run with plums and after jamming pounds and pounds of them, made this plum sorbet recipe published recently in the Guardian newspaper. However, she didn't find the recipe that brilliant, so I've learnt from her experience and gone a slightly different route. The recipe published online has 2kg of plums, whereas the recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Everyday recipe book has only 1kg of plums with the amounts of the other ingredients all the same. After J's comments that her sorbet wasn't very sweet, I decided to use the ratio of sugar:fruit for the smaller quantity of plums. And since I don't want to be eating this forever, I also halved the recipe. I found when tasting the puree before freezing that it needed more sugar. Don't be afraid of adding more sugar to taste - in fact, you want the puree over-sweetened before freezing as the freezing process dulls the flavour and sweetness. I also used vanilla extract because vanilla pods are horrendously expensive!!!
Roast plum sorbet
400g red British plums
50g caster sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar to taste (I used 15g)
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C.
- Wash and halve the plums, remove the stones and place in the baking tray. Sprinkle over 50g caster sugar and add 125ml water (I used some that had just boiled).
- Roast for around 30 minutes until very soft. Don't leave them in the oven whilst baking a cake meaning that you can't check on them....otherwise they char a little. No harm done though....
- Pass the plums and roasting juices through a sieve. I found this pretty quick and easy, but I know J found it took her ages. I think my plums were very ripe and soft by this stage.
- Taste and add more sugar until it is slightly too sweet. This is deliberate because freezing will dull both the flavours and the sweetness of the mixture.
- Add the vanilla extract and allow to cool completely.
- Churn in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturers instructions. I allowed mine to pre-cool for around 10 minutes and then churned the sorbet until I could no longer stand the horrific noise the motor seemed to be making whilst churning the mixture. I think this was just over 10 minutes, and the mixture seemed to be starting to set.
- Transfer to a clean plastic container and freeze until firm.
I should really, really make more use of my fantastic ice-cream maker! The taste of this sorbet seems to be the essence of plums and it's such a beautiful colour too. The colour will obviously depend on the variety of plum you use, but as there are some gorgeous British plums available at the moment I would urge you to make this. The sorbet tasted really creamy and rich and J commented that it was much smoother than hers, even though she had taken hers out three times to beat it whilst freezing - I guess having an ice-cream maker does make a difference. I can't believe that something as simple as a combination of fruit and sugar can taste so good. The vanilla flavour wasn't obvious, which I was pleased about and roasting the fruit seems to have intensified the flavour. When I was roasting my plums they caught a little, but I discarded this bit and it doesn't seem to have affected the taste of the rest of the mixture. Mmm, yum, sorbet!