Saturday, April 13, 2013

Autumn Fruit Pudding

I love Autumn. The weather is cooling down (especially the nights), the days are crisp and clear and the season brings a whole new batch of fresh produce. The Summer fruit and vegetables are starting to disappear and the Autumn harvest begins. Today's recipe is inspired by that change of season, using a range of delicious Autumn fruits to create a comforting, warming and flavour filled pudding - just perfect for the cooler weather.

This pudding is comprised of aromatic roasted fruits, given a extra punch with vanilla and a touch of lime - and a light vanilla cake top that is just delicious served warm with something creamy like ice cream or custard. I made mine in one pan, but you could easily make individual serves if that takes your fancy. The recipe is very adaptable. Use whatever fruits you can find wherever you are. In my case, I had some wonderful organic nectarines, black plums, a punnet of strawberries and a big bunch of rhubarb. This combination not only made for a beautiful flavour, but a fantastic ruby coloured result.

Gorgeous Autumn Fruit
- about to go into the oven
I thought the dessert had an old fashioned vibe about it, so I served the Autumn Fruit Pudding on some gorgeous vintage English china that I picked up last Christmas holidays at a secondhand store in Nowra, NSW. (If you are ever in that part of the world, look up "The Everything Store" - full of all kinds of treasures!) The china really caught my eye with it's beautiful peacock coloured pattern. The set comprised of a large serving bowl and six smaller dessert bowls and was made by Keeling & Company in Staffordshire, England. They produced a range of striking brightly coloured china called Losol Ware from 1886 to 1936. I did a bit of online research and found that my china is the "Rushton" design pattern and circa 1912. 
Although this china is over 100 years old, it gets plenty of outings. I have taken to using the bigger bowl as a salad dish. I absolutely hate the idea of having beautiful things locked up in a cupboard and not used. That whole notion is just so stupid and precious. These items were made to be used, so that's just what I do! I do draw the line though, at putting them in the dishwasher - I wash and dry these by hand due to the fine gold edging around the rim of the bowls. I don't think they would fare well being machine washed under extreme heat. Every time I eat off these beautiful dishes, I ponder who may have owned them before, and what kinds of food was served on them. I wonder who brought them here from England, and how they have survived 100 years without a chip or crack. Amazing. Makes me enjoy this Autumn Fruit Pudding even more.

Autumn Fruit Pudding

You will need:
For the filling: 1 bunch rhubarb, 1 punnet strawberries, 4 nectarines, 4-6 plums, 1 vanilla bean, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, juice of 1 lime, 1 vanilla pod

For the pudding top: 125g butter, 1/2 cup caster sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups self raising flour, 1/3 cup milk, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons icing sugar (to dust on the top)

Method: Remove and discard the leaves from the rhubarb and chop the rhubarb stalks into pieces about 3cm long. Cut the stalks from the strawberries and remove the stones from the plums and nectarines. Leave the strawberries whole but chop the plums and nectarines into large chunks. Split the vanilla pod down the middle, scrape out the seeds with a knife.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Combine the fruit, lime juice and brown sugar and vanilla beans (including the pod) and bake on a tray or shallow baking dish for 25 minutes, stirring through once, about halfway through cooking. Set the fruit aside to cool.

To make the pudding top, Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat together until all combined. Now add half of the flour and half of the milk until well mixed. Add the remaining milk and flour and combine thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 160C. In a heatproof dish, spoon the fruit mixture. Remove the vanilla pod.  Now pour the pudding mixture over the top and bake for around 45 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before dusting with icing sugar.

Serve warm with cream, yogurt, custard or ice cream.



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