I picked up Hugh's Three Good Things on offer in WH Smith's because of the lovely pictures and emphasis on simple recipes, lovingly put together to showcase three key ingredients. Alluring recipes such as 'ham, squash, marmalade' and 'polenta, beans, kale' are easy to prepare with a highlight on seasonal ingredients and will make you think differently about the components of your meal. I hadn't made anything from the book, despite everything looking delicious, so it was the perfect candidate for the Cookbook Challenge. For a cosy day working from home, I made 'plums, crumble, ice cream' as an indulgent afternoon treat. Plums aren't in season, but I picked up a punnet from Tesco to 'ripen at home' and we forgot to eat them and they were starting to get mushy. This recipe honestly took less than 10 minutes to knock up, so it's going straight on my list of last-minute puds as it serves as a perfect base for any stone fruit or, really, any fruit that takes well to cooking (bananas and Nutella, perhaps? YUM).
For the crumble
225g plain flour
A pinch of fine sea salt
200g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
150g granulated or demerara sugar
100g medium oatmeal, ground almonds or porridge oats
For the fruit
30g butter, softened
8 large plums
2 tbsp soft brown sugar or honey
4-8 star anise (optional)
4 generous scoops of vanilla ice cream
[Recipe abridged, but with all the relevant details] For the crumble, which you can make ahead, preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and rub together with your fingertips until you have a crumbly dough. Squeeze the mixture to form clumps, then crumble on to a large baking tray and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway, until golden and crisp. Cool and keep in an airtight container until ready to use.
For the fruit, heat to 190C/Gas 5 and butter a roasting dish. Halve the plums and remove the stone. Put them, cut side up, in the dish, dot with the remaining butter and sprinkle with the sugar or honey. Scatter star anise, if using. Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and juicy.
Any leftover plums (ha!) would be delicious the next morning with natural yoghurt and some of the crumble sprinkled on top. However, I'd like to add that while a pudding that is mainly composed of fruit may appear virtuous, it is only masquerading as such. Especially if you find it impossible to keep going back to the cupboard for a nibble on the leftover crumble which may seem healthy, but essentially equals eating a whole packet of biscuits, so heads up on that one (spoonfuls of crumble do taste delicious along with a cup of tea, though, I must add...)