Cooking with Plums: Stewed Plums and a “Butter Baby”

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There’s something about cooked plums that makes me weak in the knees. Sure, biting into a ripe plum at the peak of the season, with the juices running to your elbows and the tartness hitting the front of your tongue, is a blissful experience. But something about the richness and depth of a cooked plum makes it a whole new and delightfully thrilling eating experience. It still reminds me of a beautiful stone fruit freshly picked from a tree, yet it takes on a more luxurious texture and taste. Cooking with plums offers a smooth, rich and sweet taste, along with a tart flavor that comes at the end. When paired properly with spices, the bar gets raised even higher. 

I have an aunt in Northern California who grows her own plum trees. She’s also a wiz at canning and preserving foods. Wouldn’t you know, she makes the most delicious plum jam I’ve ever tasted. That jam is perhaps what made me fall in love with plums. I don’t attempt plum jams or jellies because I know I won’t come close to how I remember hers. But I cook with plums any other way I can.

I’m coining the term “Butter Baby”. It’s a combination of a Dutch Baby and a Tart Tatin. It’s also gluten-free. Essentially a pancake batter baked in the oven, it begins with a generous amount of butter, which reminds me of the French technique. I make these at home often and they’re always a hit. A “Butter Baby” can be made with any fruit and alternate flours. The “traditional foods” lifestyle is gaining a large amount of followers and bringing health enthusiasts back to butter. This recipe is an excellent way to make use of your pasture butter or ghee.

Since it’s the peak of plum season, I bought a large amount of plums at the farmers market with the intention of making more than one recipe. I made stewed plums with the rest, which is quite similar to my aunt’s plum jam but simpler and made with honey instead of sugar. I like to keep various stewed fruits in my home. If I have leftover seasonal fruit, I make a small jar of stewed fruit to use in place of jam. I use it to top oatmeal, porridge, yogurt or breads. It’s healthy, easy and always a great addition to my weekly menu.

Photo by Malorie Davis

Plum “Butter Baby” Recipe

• 1/2 cup brown rice flour (You can substitute wheat flour or buckwheat flour.)
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup almond milk (You can substitute whole milk.)
• 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 5 to 6 small plums (or any other fruit), sliced
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch ground cloves
• 6 tablespoons butter or ghee
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, cornstarch, honey, salt, vanilla extract, eggs, almond milk, coconut oil and lemon zest. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, toss the sliced plums with the cinnamon and ground cloves. Set aside.

4. In a cast-iron skillet, dollop the butter or ghee around and drizzle on the maple syrup. Arrange the plums in a single layer over the butter and syrup. Heat the skillet over medium until the butter is melted and the syrup begins to bubble. Turn off the heat, and pour the batter over the plums.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and looking crisp. Cut into pie slices and serve.

Photo by Malorie Davis

Stewed Plums Recipe

• 6 plums, sliced
• 2 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons honey
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Place all of the ingredients in a cast-iron or heavy-bottom pot and stir with a wooden spoon. Heat over medium-high with a lid on, and cook until the plums become tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Remove the lid, stir and cook for 5 minutes more, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the consistency is fairly thick.

3. Store in a glass jar. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Malorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog 
Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.

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