LAWRENCE MURPHY: A sharp, sweet gift from the Romans

Lawrence uses Victoria plums, which were first cultivated in Sussex in the 1840s
Lawrence uses Victoria plums, which were first cultivated in Sussex in the 1840s

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plum sponge WITH OLIVE OIL

Makes 8 small sponges

The Romans introduced plums to North European countries including England many years ago but they seem to be a very British ingredient.

Plums and custard must be as memorable as any childhood dessert that I can think of. There are so many varieties of plums – from very tart ones that cook well with fatty meats, to beautifully sweet ones that can be eaten raw.

The popular Victoria plum, with its sweet and sharp flavour, was first cultivated just over the border in the county of Sussex in the 1840s.

I like to roast them with sugar until the dark skins split and the flesh softens. You can then add them to a sponge mix, or spoon them over an already made sponge.

They are really good cooked this way and added to a creamy rice pudding.

Ingredients

240g plums

35g sugar

2 eggs

100ml olive oil – do not use extra virgin

110g sugar

180g self-raising flour

Method

1. Stone the plums and cut into quarters.

2. Sprinkle with 35g of sugar and place on a baking tray.

3. Roast for eight minutes in a preheated oven (175C/gas 4) and allow to cool.

4. Use an electric whisk to whisk the eggs and oil.

5. Add the sugar and whisk again for two minutes.

6. Fold in the flour and add the roasted plums.

7. Put the mixture into eight small tins and bake for 22 minutes or until cooked.

8. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Lawrence’s restaurant is Fat Olives, Emsworth. Visit fatolives.co.uk or call 01243 377 914.