Baking Advent: celebrating the festive season with a different daily baked good.
After I had made a batch of tender plum and poppy seed muffins, there was still a bag full of beautiful – but ever so slightly soft – purple plums winking at me. I hunted through my cookbooks and magazines looking for an appropriate recipe (greatly aided by cookbook indexing tool Eat Your Books) and found a recipe for a plum and ginger traybake, based on oats. Plum and ginger are two tastes which go together beautifully, and the oats add a wholesome nubbliness that makes these treats seem almost breakfast-appropriate – although, conversely, the combination of butter, golden syrup and oats also brings to mind the mighty flapjack. In any case, there’s little not to love.
The recipe is quite clever in saving some of the batter used for the base of the traybake and mixing it with additional oats and flour to make a delectably crunchy topping. It’s such an easy idea – much simpler than putting together even the most basic extra crumble – that it makes me wonder why I’ve never seen it before. The recipe was written by Jane Hornby, who is the author of the beautiful and instructive What to Bake and How to Bake It, and she is really very good at breaking down recipes into simple steps that make them achievable for anyone without – for lack of a better word – dumbing them down to the extent where they are simple and plain. The oats used are standard porridge oats, rather than the jumbo oats often called for in baking, and this was particularly satisfying because we always have these in the house for morning winter breakfasts.
The only slightly awkward thing about this recipe was fitting the oat base into the suggested 17x23cm tin – the dough couldn’t fit over this large space. I ended up using a 21x21cm square Pyrex dish, and this worked perfectly, though I’m sure a metal tin of a similar size would work well too.
Recipe below the jump, as always
Note: do not use jumbo oats (whole rolled oats) for this recipe
- 140g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100g dark brown soft sugar
- 100g golden syrup
- 250g prepared plums – i.e., stoned and then weighed, about 6 plums
- 140g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 heaped TBS chopped stem ginger
- 85g porridge oats
- 2 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature
For the topping
- 25g plain flour
- 25g porridge oats
- 2 heaped tsp chopped stem ginger
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Butter a 21x21cm (or thereabouts) square tin and line it with baking paper – for this recipe a parchment ‘sling’ is helpful, i.e. cutting the baking paper slightly longer than the dimensions of the tin on either side so that you can lift out the finished baked item by lifting the baking paper ends gently at the end of cooking, rather than needing to cut directly in the tin.
- Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together in a large pan. Meanwhile, stone the plums (if you haven’t already), weigh out 250g, and quarter them.
- When the butter mixture has melted together and is smooth, stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, ground and preserved stem ginger, oats, and eggs, and beat together until evenly mixed.
- Remove 2 TBS of the batter and set aside. Pour the rest of the batter into the prepared tin. Scatter the tin with the plums – I actually dotted them as evenly as possible. try to avoid clustering too many in the middle, as this may cause the centre to be too damp and cook unevenly, resulting in an undercooked centre or overcooked edges.
- For the topping, mix the reserved 2 TBS of batter with the extra flour and porridge oats. Crumble this stiff mixture over the batter in the pan, again scattering it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle over the remaining chopped stem ginger.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and risen, and fairly clean when tested with a skewer. Let cool completely in the tin before lifting out and cutting into squares.