Tag Archives: Preserves

Plum Butter

There’s an old abandoned house on the bike path not far from where I live, with half its windows boarded up and the rest broken out. The roof is beginning to cave in, and every time I pass by I feel a twinge of sadness as I wonder about the people who built the house and planted the fruit trees lining the property. But for a while this summer, the sadness was trumped by joy and anticipation as the fragrant blossoms of spring swelled into thousands of prune plums, weighing down the ancient trees along the bike path.

abandoned house with plum trees

Last year, I lamented the fact that there were no plums at the farmer’s market due to a late frost (and had to console myself with this mushroom tart). This year was the exact opposite.

prune plums on tree

The plums started turning ripe in mid-August, and they were everywhere I looked. I returned to the trees several weekends in a row, plastic bags bulging and cutting into my fingers as I trotted back down the bike path. My sister and I picked until we couldn’t carry any more, and we still didn’t even come close to making a dent in the crop. Runners and bike commuters stopped to gorge themselves on plums, and some of the old locals pulled their cars onto the property and loaded up boxes from the opposite side of the fence. All in all, we ended up processing just over 100 pounds, and there were still plums dropping off the tree when we finally cried uncle.

tree full of prune plums

big bowl of ripe italian prune plums

First on the to-make list was plum butter. I made it once a couple years ago, and it’s one of the best preserves I’ve ever tried. Tart and sweet, with complex notes of vanilla bean just below the surface. I love to spread it on toast, swirl it into plain yogurt, and put it in ebelskivers.

Plum butter doesn’t use pectin; it’s cooked down until very thick and then canned. I made several batches of varying thickness, and can tell you firsthand that they are all delicious — some are more like thin preserves, and others are so thick that I have a hard time spreading them. It’s tricky to get a very thick plum butter as you’ll need to stir it constantly at the end to keep it from scorching, but it’s well worth the effort. Even if you end up with syrup, I promise it will be delicious.

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Ebelskivers (Danish Pancakes)

Last week, I was rummaging around in the cupboard and found a forgotten gem hidden in the back: an ebelskiver pan.

turn_them_carefully

I first fell in love with these little Danish pancake balls during a snow day in the second grade. My mom made them, stuffed with spiced apples, and my friend and I inhaled the entire batch before heading out to play in the snow. On our first toboggan run, fortified by all that flour and sugar, we set a new distance record — and went sailing right though the wooden snow fence at the bottom of the hill. It was our only run of the day. Minutes later we were in the car, creeping over snow-packed roads to get my friend’s forehead stitched up.

Whether it was the trauma of the sledding incident, or just that we ate all the ebelskivers before she got a chance to try any, Mom didn’t make ebelskivers for us again and eventually gifted me the pan. And then I forgot about them too, until last week.

fold_whites_into_batter

ebelskivers_on_plate

Ebelskivers can be made plain, like little pancake popovers, or filled with pretty much anything. I used chopped spiced apples, plus a variety of homemade preserves — raspberry, chokecherry, and plum butter. Generally speaking, the thicker the filling, the better the result. The unanimous favorite was the plum butter I made a few seasons ago (and meant to recreate for you this past summer, but then there were no plums to be found anywhere.) Chokecherry jelly was a close second.

add_batter_to_cover_filling

Browsing around on the internet, I found a lot of instructions involving knitting needles and metal chopsticks. Some say the proper way to make ebelskivers is to stick a pointy object (gently!) through the batter and turn them gradually to make a perfect ball. I didn’t think this would end very well for me and my jam-filled morsels, and didn’t bother to try it. Instead, I found it easiest to run a butter knife underneath the ebelskiver, then quickly flip it over and tuck the uncooked side into the well with my fingers.

plum_ebelskivers

And really, once you’ve tried these tender little pancake bites you won’t care about the proper technique, or burned fingers, or even that these are slightly more fussy and time-consuming than their flat relatives. Now that I’ve become reacquainted with my favorite snow-day breakfast, ebelskivers will be making an appearance during every blizzard, brunch, and holiday in my house.

plum_filling

Ebelskivers (Danish Pancakes)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: About 21 ebelskivers

Ebelskivers (Danish Pancakes)

These traditional Danish pancakes are perfect for a snow day or lazy weekend brunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus additional for greasing pan)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • Preserves or chopped apples for filling (about 1/2 cup)
  • Special Equipment:
  • Ebelskiver pan

Instructions

  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.
  2. In a metal mixer bowl, beat egg whites until they hold soft peaks.
  3. Whisk sugar, egg yolks, milk, and butter together in a large bowl.
  4. Sift dry ingredients over wet and whisk until just combined (batter will still be lumpy). Fold in egg whites.
  5. Heat ebelskiver pan with about 1/4 teaspoon butter in each well until bubbly. Add 1 tablespoon batter to each well, then add 1 teaspoon of filling. Add batter to cover filling.
  6. Cook over low-medium heat until edges are set and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. With a knife or metal chopstick, gently turn the ebelskivers over and tuck them upside down into the wells to cook the other side.
  7. Cook until both sides are browned, about 4 more minutes. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.

Notes

Ebelskivers may be kept in the oven on warm until the whole batch is cooked, but they're best straight out of the pan.

Adapted from Serious Eats.

http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/ebelskivers-danish-pancakes/