Valentine Warner exclusive recipe: Queen of plums

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Serves 6
Method: 

This delicious recipe comes to you from Valentine Warner, TV chef and author of his latest book 'The Good Table'.
After a childhood of being surrounded by food and learning the connections between nature and the table, Valentine started working in various London restaurants. This has expanded into a TV career which started in 2008 with his programme 'What to eat now', based on his book of the same name.

'Queen of puddings is one of my favourites, but when clusters of plums make the boughs hang heavy, the raspberry jam can move over and make way. Then plums can move over for apples when the time comes.

Place the plum halves in a medium saucepan with 100g of the sugar and the lemon juice. Cover and cook gently for 15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the plums are sitting in their juice, then remove the lid and increase the heat.
Simmer the plums for a further 8–10 minutes until they are very soft and have collapsed in a thick syrup – similar to a fruit compote. Stir regularly as they cook so that they do not stick.

Spoon into a well-buttered 2-litre ovenproof pie dish. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.
While the plums are cooling, separate three of the eggs and beat the three yolks with one whole egg in a large bowl until smooth. Reserve the whites. Stir in 25g of the remaining sugar along with the lemon zest, softened butter, breadcrumbs, milk and cream.

Leave to stand for 15 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to swell. Spoon the bread mixture gently on top of the cooled plums, spread evenly and allow to stand for a further 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/Gas 4. Bake the pudding on a sturdy baking tray in the centre of the oven for about 35–40 minutes until faintly browned around the edges and only just set – it should still wobble in the middle. It is very important that the bread filling remains very soft and giving as when cooked to ‘cakey’ the pud is not such a treat.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gradually whisk in the remaining sugar until the meringue is thick and glossy. Beat in the vanilla extract at the end. Remove the dish from the oven, increase the oven temperature to 170°C fan/190°C/Gas 5 and pile the meringue on top. Return to the oven for a further 18–20 minutes until the meringue is set and lightly browned. Serve hot with single cream for pouring. Dive in.'

Sommelier's choice for this recipe:

Moscato 2010 by Deakin Estate
Lifted floral and Muscat-grape aromas lead to a light, slightly spritzy palate with a winning balance of sweetness and refreshing green apple flavour.

Moscatel Dulce 2011 by Fina Antigua
A stunning mixture of concentration and freshness, tingling with orangey acidity and floral, grapey aromas, then direct, powerful and surprisingly sweet on the palate. A tour de force!

Gewurtztraminer Tradition 2010 by Cave de Turcheim
The 'Cave Tradition' wines represent their standard quality range of classic Alsace varietals: the Gewurztraminer shows lovely balance of ripeness, varietal purity and finesse. Fragrant rose-petal and grapefruit aromas with a hint of sweet spice, quite rich but with lychee, spicy juicy fruit and acidity combining well to the finish.
 

The Good Table by Valentine Warner (published by Mitchell Beazley)  is available to buy from amazon.co.uk

Ingredients: 
  • 6 large firm ripe plums, halved
  • and stoned
  • 275g caster sugar
  • juice and finely grated zest of
  • ½ small unwaxed lemon
  • 4 medium free-range eggs
  • 15g butter, softened, plus extra
  • for greasing
  • 125g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 200ml double cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • single cream, chilled, to serve