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I wasn’t sure what to call this. Technically it’s more cake than pie, but calling it cake doesn’t do justice to a pieplateload of juicy fruit topped with a sweet, crunchy topping; it’s not a pie either – it has no pastry but is baked in a pie plate and cut into wedges. The fruit-topping ratio is reminiscent of a crumble or a cobbler, but this is easier than any of the above. I could go as far as to call it foolproof.
Generally I don’t make dessert on a regular Monday night, but I had bought red and yellow plums on the weekend with something specific in mind – cobbler? Pie? Upside down cake? It was something, but today I had no idea what it was, and flipping through the rained-on-and-dried-out magazines on my front step gave no clues. Also, I happened to have whipping cream in the fridge, which almost never happens. So I couldn’t really not make something out of the plums.
I picked up one of my favourite cookbooks, Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax (a cookbook Mike bought me literally decades ago just because he knew I liked cooking), and flipped through to a recipe I was instantly drawn to years ago, probably because the intro begins with: “Stick a bookmark right here, and leave it in.” It’s called Ligita’s Quick Apple Cake (pg. 383), but it doesn’t need apples. Richard describes it as a “custardy batter quickly poured over apples and baked to a crusty gold.” I wouldn’t describe it as custardy, but would zero in on the browned butter – a simple step that intensifies the nutty buttery flavour a thousandfold. (I cut the butter by a third to 1/2 cup, and will likely try to reduce it a bit more next time, although it undoubtedly contributes to its crunchy, buttery bliss. I would have licked out the butter-melting pot if I wasn’t afraid of burning off my tastebuds.)
That’s it: I’ll call it Browned Butter Bliss. Today, Plum Browned Butter Bliss. This is one of those great go-to recipes that you could use with apples, pears, plums, peaches, berries, apricots, cherries… really anything that needs to be turned into something any time of year. I love the combination of sweet crunch on top and juicy sourness underneath, and the look of both yellow and red plums together.
Oh right, dinner. It seems uneventful after the Bliss – a big salad yukaflux with roasted beets, blueberries, peas from the garden and grilled chicken which I painted with some of the raspberry vinaigrette leftover from last weekend before I grilled it. It sounds much fancier than it actually was.
But seriously – Browned Butter Bliss. Once you make it, it will turn into one of those things that you stir together on autopilot whenever you need something fruity and delicious.