Archive for the ‘Italian plums’ Category

There was no post on Wednesday due to a crisis. The featured recipe was to be a plum flaugnarde. To define flaugnarde, it is necessary to describe clafoutis. In the Limousin region of France, clafoutis is a baked dessert made of cherries blanketed by custard. The pits are left in the cherries as they are thought to contribute to the flavor. A flaugnarde is simply a clafoutis made with any other kind of fruit.

My intention was to make a flaugnarde with a mixture of Italian plums and greengage plums (Prunus domestica var. italica), or Ringlotten, as they are called here. The word Ringlotte is a corruption of reine claude (Queen Claude), the French term for this variety of plum that was first cultivated in Moissac, France in the 16th century. The cultivar was named after Queen Claude (1499-1524), the short-lived duchess of Brittany and wife of King François I. Since Sir Thomas Greengage brought this variety from France to England in the 18th century, it bears his name in English. The greengages that I bought at the market were labelled Bertigamer, a sort that the seller told me was quite old. Unfortunately, precursory research into Bertigamer – where they came from, the history of their cultivation in Austria – has been unfruitful so far.

The real problem, however, was the custard crisis. Though I followed the free-standing custard ratio of 2 parts liquid to one part egg in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, I ended up with a flaugnarde that tasted good but whose consistency left a lot to be desired. A second attempt with less milk also failed to achieve a firm, solid custard layer, but the third time (with a roughly 1:1 ratio plus some cornstarch just to be safe) was the charm.

Mixed Plum Flaugnarde


650 g mixed plums (I used Zwetschken and Bertigamer Ringlotten)

3 eggs

150 ml (3/4 c) milk and/or heavy cream (I used half milk, half Schlagobers)

2 Tbs red wine

75 g (½ c) whole wheat flour

30 g (¼ c) ground walnuts

2 Tbs sugar

1 Tbs cornstarch

a pinch of salt

Cut the plums in half and arrange in a tart pan.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and wine together. Stir in the rest of the ingredients one at a time, making sure the batter doesn’t clump together.

Pour the batter over the plums.

Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 50 minutes or until the custard has set and is attractively browned.



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Egg-shaped and smooth, Italian plums, or Zwetschken, have a bluish-purple skin and yellow flesh that gradually darkens as the fruit ripens. It is easy to remove the pit; in fruit parlance they are freestone. Thursday I had the pleasure of picking two kilos here in town.

Italian plums are the most widespread variety of plum in Austria. In addition to referring to Prunus domestica var. domestica/oeconomica, the word Zwetschken is sometimes used as a catchall phrase to refer to all subspecies of Prunus domestica. They are enjoyed fresh, baked in cakes, hidden in dumplings (see my recipe for Marillenknödel – simply substitute an Italian plum for an apricot), fermented to make Slibowitz or Zwetschkenschnaps (plum brandy), or transformed into Zwetschkenröster, a traditional compote made of stewed Italian plums.

This drupe is integrated not only into the cuisine but also into the language. Mein lieber Freund und Zwetschkenröster (my dear friend and stewed Italian plums) is an Austrian expression used as a warning to address someone whose behavior you find increasingly irritating. It’s a way of saying “I’d watch it if I were you.” If you have your seven plums together (seine sieben Zwetschken beinander haben), it means you have your act together.

Well, this weekend I got my seven plums together and made jam by myself for the first time, independent of the neighborhood jam-making guild as I did the first and second time. I feel I have now earned the right to the title of master jam-maker, or Marmeladen-Meisterin! My first batch was Ringlottenmarmelade, my second a variation on Zwetschkenröster with red wine, cinnamon, and cloves. Ringlotten are a kind of plum that I will describe in more detail in my next post, but now after all this action in the kitchen, I am plum(b) tired. Here are pictures of the fruit of my labor this weekend. And now it is time to stop before the puns get any worse…

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