Summer seduces with warmth and blue skies, or the anticipation of both, whereas Autumn seduces with colour. I’m not alluding to the glorious annual show of colour produced by the forest, but to the luscious displays of damsons, figs, blackberries and plums that now fill the markets and the roadside stalls with their infinite array of deep, subtle colours reminiscent of piles of amber, rubies and garnets . Plums, amongst all these honest seasonal delights, can be cruel deceivers. Lying in seductive piles, their deep colours and soft curves promise a ripeness and juice laden sweetness which illusion is so often dispelled at the first bite. It surprises me that Eve didn’t go for the plum rather than the apple, but maybe it was a bad year for plums in Eden or she was a lot smarter than the average single girl in the Garden. The good thing about a plum, apart from stunning good looks, is its ability to transmogrify into the most delicious dessert, sauce or preserve. To reveal the character of the plum one has only to combine it with heat, butter, sugar, cream and pastry as I did with a particularly good looking bunch of these fraudulent fruit. Having cut them in half, and removed the stones, I put them into a pan with some sugar, butter and a splash of sweet white wine. The lidded pan cooked over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the plums were starting to collapse and producing delicious juices. Whilst this was happening I was cooking some small squares of egg washed and sugared puff pastry in the oven. This simple assembly reveals that the plum is not a pushover, but only needs to be showered with warmth, wine and sweetness if one is to enjoy the delights that are so clearly on offer.
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