Skye Gyngell autumnal prune recipes

Now that the weather is turning autumnal, it's time to celebrate food that's a little more hearty. So as we say goodbye to soft summer fruit, one replacement is the prune. This useful little fruit lends its soft jammy texture and intense flavour to all manner of dishes – both sweet and savoury (such as tagines).

I like to use the prunes from the Agen area of France, where this month the fruit is celebrated with a festival. They are widely available these days, and their lush softness puts those wizened old dried specimens from the past to shame.

For the prunes in tea, and prunes in sherry, keep the stones in the fruit as this helps them to retain their shape until you're ready to use them.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Prunes in tea

These barely sweetened prunes are delicious for breakfast, but also good with quail, roasted duck or pigeon. I usually use Earl Grey, which gives a slightly smoky taste, but herbal teas such as jasmine may also be used for a subtle and floral result.

Makes 1 large jar

500ml/1/2 pint water
1tbsp loose tea
2tbsp sugar
500g/1lb prunes with their stones intact
3 strips of orange zest

Bring the water to the boil, pour over the loose tea leaves and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar and then leave to cool until just warm to the touch. Place the prunes into a jar and pour over the tea, then add the orange zest. Leave to cool completely, stirring or shaking once or twice. Seal and store in the refrigerator.

Prune and Armagnac tart

Serves 8 –10

250g/8oz ready made, all-butter pastry
300g/10oz good-quality prunes
30g/1oz unsalted butter
2 organic free-range eggs
120g/4oz caster sugar
vanilla extract
1tbsp orange flower water
5tbsp double cream
3tbsp ground almonds
3tbsp Armagnac to drizzle
Icing sugar to dust
Crème fraîche to serve

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a large round, about 3mm thick. Using your rolling pin, carefully lift the pastry and drape it over a 25cm flan tin, about 2.5cm deep with removable base. Press the pastry into the edges and side of the tin, and trim excess from the rim by rolling your pin straight across the top. Prick the base all over with a fork. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Stone the prunes and place them in a bowl. Pour on hot water to cover, leave to soak for 10 minutes to soften, and then drain. Melt the butter in a small pan and allow to cool slightly.

Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and baking beans, and bake "blind" for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, and return to the oven for five minutes, or until the pastry base is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Increase the oven setting to 190C/375F/Gas5.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, orange flower water, cream, almonds, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Lightly whisk together until evenly blended, then stir in the melted butter.

Place the flan tin on a flat baking tray (to make it easier to take in and out of the oven). Scatter the prunes evenly over the pastry base, then ladle the whisked egg mixture over the top; carefully place on the middle shelf of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 180C/350F/Gas4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the custard filling is golden brown on the surface and still slightly wobbly in the centre.

Remove the flan from the oven and drizzle with the Armagnac. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dusting of icing sugar and a dollop of crème fraîche.

Prunes with honey and cream

Prunes steeped in warm honey with a touch of Pedro Ximenez sherry, stirred through folds of gently whipped cream, make for a simple and elegant dessert. Make as I do – more than you need – for they are also lovely spooned over vanilla ice-cream, or paired with a robust sheep's- milk cheese. I have also been known to eat this on toast with lashings of unsalted butter, and I keep a jar in the fridge during the cooler months.

For the prunes in syrup

250ml/8 fl oz Pedro Ximenez sherry
240ml/71/2fl oz water
175g/6oz honey
500g/1lb soft black prunes, stones intact

Place the honey and water in a small saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring frequently until the honey has just melted. Remove from the stove. Place the prunes in a jar and pour over the warmed honey, adding the Pedro Ximenez at the same time. It is important that the prunes are completely covered by the liquid.

Cover with the lid and secure tightly. Give the bottle a couple of shakes, allow to cool to room temperature, and then set in the fridge. Left well covered in a cool place, they will keep almost indefinitely.

Serves 6-8

560ml/18fl oz double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Approx 500g/1lb of the syrupy prunes (see above)

Remove the stones from the prunes and slice roughly. Gently whip the cream until just soft and billowing. Fold in the icing sugar and vanilla extract, and then, just before serving, stir in the prunes, adding a tablespoon or two of their liquid. Delicious served with buttery, barely sweet biscuits such as langues de chat.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power