Looking at my recent posts, there is a barrage of autumn inspiration, all savoury. Now it's time for the sweet stuff! The colors, shapes and textures of autumn fruits are a constant source of inspiration. After the beautifully sweet stone fruits of summer, the crunchy but smooth textured fig with its sweet earthiness is so refreshing. As is the grainy, blushing quince and the crisp bite of a juicy tannic grape. I am always torn whether or not to paint these beautiful fruits, in the style of the old Dutch masters with all of their renaissance, still life realism - or simply devour them direct from the market basket. If, like me, you adore autumn fruits, here are two lovely dessert recipes to celebrate the start of the season. Perhaps they could even take a starring role as a part of your Easter feast!
Fig and grape fritters with creme de Brie
These fluffy fritters are a lovely way to finish a meal. You can serve them with a dollop of creme de Brie for an extra indulgence and play between the sweetness of the fritter and the saltiness of the cheese, or you can simply omit the brie and dust them with a mixture of cinnamon and a little powdered sugar.
3 tbs caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla seed paste
100g seedless red grapes, thinly sliced
50g fresh figs, thinly sliced
1/3 cup self raising flour
Butter for cooking
1. Whisk egg yolks with sugar and vanilla until creamy.
2. Add the thinly sliced figs and grapes, mix well.
3. Sift in the flour.
4. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.
5. Gently fold the egg whites through the grape and fig mixture.
6. Melt butter in a frying pan and add a few heaped tablespoons of the grape and fig batter. Cook fritters until bubbles form on one side and then flip carefully.
7. Repeat to use up all the batter. Place fritters on absorbent paper and keep warm until serving with dollops of creme de Brie or cinammon sugar.
Steamed quince pudding with spiced syrup & fresh figs
This is a hearty and warming, traditional style pudding has a lovely pink blush from the slow cooked quince. It is wonderful served with fresh figs that have been soaked along side the pudding, in the heady spice syrup.
800g quinces, peeled, cored & chopped roughly
1 cup water
1 tbs brown sugar
Zest of 1 orange (reserve orange)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1& 1/2 cups self raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 cup milk
Juice of the reserved orange
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp ground cardamon
2 cinnamon sticks
1. Grease your pudding basin. Place quince in a large saucepan with water, brown sugar and orange zest. Cook, covered, on a low heat until the quince is soft - about 30 mins. Allow to cool.
2. Cream butter and caster sugar. Then, beat in eggs one at a time.
3. Sift in flour, baking soda, ginger and mixed spice. Mix until smooth.
4. Stir in milk and the cooled quince with about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
5. Add the mixture to a pudding basin and seal with foil, baking parchment & string.
6. Place the basin in a very large saucepan or stock pot. Fill with enough boiling water to come up to the side of the basin. Boil for 1 & 1/2 hours. Allow to stand for about 15 mins in basin before removing.
7. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Add the juice of the orange and all other ingredients to a saucepan. Do not boil, but allow sugar to dissolve. Simmer for about 10-15 mins or until thickened. Remove the cinnamon sticks and pour over pudding and fresh figs. Reserve a little of the syrup to serve over individual pieces of pudding with generous dollops of whipped cream and the syrup soaked figs.