On this blog I really talk rather a lot about looking forward to the appearance of certain produce. I realize that. And while this might seem like some manic quirk it really is the result of cooking with an appreciation of the changing seasons. Obviously nothing is as great as the first fresh spring produce after a long dark winter, but, heck, autumn has so much that I love to offer as well! I mean: pumpkins! Do I need to say much more!? Mushrooms, especially chanterelles! Chestnuts! Apples! Not the boring all year round available overseas apples, but really crisp and tart ones. And last, but not least one of my favourite fruits: the humble plum.
I love them most when they are still slightly underripe. The sweeter they become, the less interesting I find them, but maybe that’s just me. Gosh, I could eat them by the kilo. Which I used to do, but the great thing about quitting sugar is, that you become more mindful about fruit (everything sweet really). It becomes a real treat and also tastes much sweeter.
Here in Germany nothing is more typical for the late summer season than a plum tray-bake with a yeast dough that is often served with whipped cream. Whether it’s is topped with crumbles on the other hand, depends on the family recipe. But who doesn’t love crumbles? My family certainly does… However the dough tends to be rather dry or gets easily burnt from underneath. For all I care, I can happily live without it, which might be why I’ve always been such a fan of the English crumble.
Making crumbles, or Streusel like we say here, out of nuts is not just easy, but incredibly delicious (and of course gluten-free). This pistachio crumble is SO good everyone else was lucky it made it from the bowl into the oven! I always like to add a quite generous pinch of salt to my crumbles or any short crust pastries – in this case I used salted pistachios and although I was worried it would be too salty, it was just absolutely delicious along the plum’s sweetness! Regarding the spices, it would be more common to use cinnamon, but the cardamom adds a freshness that lifts the dish and brings it all together. I once had a very cardamomy rhubarb crumble on a market in Copenhagen, which I absolutely fell in love with. Needless to say, that I’m also a lover of the cardamom heavy traditional Swedish Kanelbullar. You get the idea: I love cardamom in baked goods, but here it’s an absolute necessity!
You can make the crumble without the labneh – and make it vegan – but I found, it added a welcome creamy texture. If you can’t be bothered making your own labneh, you might use thick (10% fat) Greek style yoghurt instead. But if you suddenly become a fan of labneh, like me, you could give this absolutely delicious labneh with roasted rhubarb & liquorice a try. Oh wait – you’ll have to wait ’til spring…Do you now see, what I meant with looking forward to the changing seasons?
Plum & pistachio crumble (serves 6)
500g plain full fat yoghurt (cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk)
1 vanilla pod
zest and some juice of 1 organic lemon
1 tsp rice malt syrup or stevia granulate
1/4 tsp of sea salt
a handful pistachios
For the crumble topping
100g (1 cup) shelled pistachios (preferably roasted and salted)
1 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
1 tsp rice malt syrup
1 tsp cardamom
It’s best to drain the yoghurt overnight to get really thick and creamy labneh (4-6 hours might work as well if you are pressed for time). So, start one day ahead by lining a strainer with a clean cheesecloth or muslin. Place it over a bowl (or your kitchen sink) and pour the yoghurt into the cloth. You can form a bundle and squeeze it from time to time to accelerate the process.
On the next day, remove the labneh from the cloth and place it in a bowl. Scrape the vanilla pod and mix labneh with the vanilla, lemon zest, a little of the lemon juice, stevia or rice malt syrup and the sea salt – be generous or it’s going to taste rather bland.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Wash and halve the plums. Place the halves upright one line after another in a baking dish (I used a rectangular 20cm x 30cm dish). Drizzle them with some more lemon juice and dot them by the spoonful with the labneh.
For the crumble I used roasted and salted pistachios. If you’re using raw pistachios lightly roast them in a pan without oil (and a generous pinch of salt to the mix later!). Place the pistachios in a food processor and grind them until you’ve got a sand like texture. Add the other ingredients and pulse to combine. Use your hand to form crumbles. The texture should be that of ‘normal’ crumbles. If it’s not, add some butter and/or rice malt syrup.
Crumble the mixture over the prepared plums and top with some a handful of whole pistachios. Place the dish in the oven and let it bake for 25-30 minutes until the crumbles have become golden and the plums started to loose some of their juices. Serve warm or cold.