Friday, July 10, 2009
Oatmeal Shortcake with Plums
My obsession with oatmeal continues. And it can only be matched by my current obsession with plums. Until figs arrive (I’m hearing perhaps next week!), I have been buying lots of plums along with all the other wonderful stone fruit available now. And since shortcake seems to be the fun and fast dessert of the moment, it’s time to give this great combination a try.
As with the Cornmeal Shortcake with Peaches I posted a couple of weeks ago, this comes together fairly quickly but you do have to be gentle when mixing the dough for the shortcake. The thing that makes them so delicious is very little handling so as not to develop the gluten in the flour. The result is a tender and delicious base for some lightly spiced plums and billows of whipped cream.
The brown sugar in the shortcakes adds a rich flavor that goes so well with the toasty oatmeal. I’ve added some cinnamon to both the shortcake and the fruit and cooked some of the plums to create a jammy sauce for the fresh fruit and cream. I love the beautiful colors and the simple yet irresistible way to enjoy all these natural ingredients. Set this plate on your table and see what happens.
- The butter and buttermilk must be very cold. Work fast so they stay cold.
- The dough is very sticky, but you won’t be handling it much more than a few seconds, only gently patting it into shape. Just be sure you dust your hands and the work surface very lightly with flour. Keep the flour and the mixing to a minimum to avoid toughening the end product.
- You can add lemon or orange zest or finely chopped nuts to the shortcake dough for more variation.
- This shortcake would also taste great with peaches, blackberries, figs, cherries or caramelized apples or bananas. Add a touch of light caramel syrup to the fruit or a syrup steeped with herbs. Top with yogurt for a lighter and tangier garnish.
Oatmeal Shortcakes with Plums
2 C flour
1/2 C old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 t cinnamon
3 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 C cold buttermilk
Coarse sugar (I use turbinado raw)
9 ripe plums
3 – 4 T sugar, to taste
2 t fresh lemon juice, to taste
1/8 t cinnamon
1 C cold heavy cream
2 t sugar, to taste
1/2 t vanilla
Cut plums in half and remove pits. Slice 6 plums thinly and toss with a splash of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.
Coarsely chop the remaining 3 plums and place in a saucepan with about 3 tablespoons of water. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon and simmer over low heat until the plums begin to soften and release their juices. Taste for sugar and add more if needed. When the plums look saucy, remove from heat and add lemon juice to taste. Cool. You can either puree the sauce or leave it chunky.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment.
Whisk together the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the pieces of butter and use a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Work quickly so the butter stays firm and cold. Add the buttermilk all at once and stir gently with a fork just until it begins to come together in clumps. Do not overmix. The dough will be sticky.
Dust your hands lightly with flour and gather the dough clumps in your hand. Place any unincorporated flour on a clean work surface or a piece of parchment and set the dough on top of that. Gently pat the dough together with your hands. Shape it into an 8” round and either cut into 6 wedges or use a round cutter dipped in flour and cut out 6 biscuits.
Place the shortcakes on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with some cream or milk and sprinkle the tops generously with coarse sugar.
Bake about 10 - 12 minutes, until the shortcakes are lightly golden. Cool on a rack.
Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla just until soft peaks form.
Slice shortcakes in half. Transfer biscuit bottoms to plates. Spoon some whipped cream on each shortcake, then some of the plum compote. Top with some fresh sliced plums. Place biscuit tops over plum mixture. Serve immediately.