Cherry plum and coconut muffins

by Jeanne on September 18, 2009

in Recipes - baking, Recipes - vegetarian

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Windfall (w nd fôl ), noun:

1.    a sudden unexpected piece of good fortune or personal gain. 

2.    something, such as ripened fruit, that has been blown down by the wind.

And why, you may ask, am I telling you this?  Could it be because I have finally won the Lotto and have had a huge cash windfall on which to retire early and blog full-time?  

Dreamy dreams.

[CookSister wakes up to grim reality.]

OK, hang on, maybe not so grim.  What are those intriguing yellow fruit in the next door neighbour's tree?  From our bedroom window they seem to be about the right size, shape and colour for loquats, but the tree is all wrong.  As I've mentioned before, I am not a natural forager, so my first instinct when I see fruit that I did not plant myself is suspicion.  But once I'd seen our Lithuanian naighbours pick and eat a few of these fruits without frothing at the mouth, hallucinating, bleeding out of their ears and collapsing (better safe than sorry!), I figured it was probably OK for me to try one to see what they were.  So many had already fallen onto our decking that we were sitting on a potential fruit goldmine if these babies turned out to be good to eat!

I ventured out to find a few of the unbruised fruit, washed them carefully and sliced one open.  Hmmm – the single pip looked remarkably like an apricot… but a little nibble revealed that the mystery fruits were in fact… plums!  Yes folks – it seems that this is one of a number of cherry plum trees in our area: at least two others on the pedestrian paths nearby produce prolific amounts of bright red wild plums.  But of course the advantage of this tree is that it drops its bounty right into the privacy of my back yard.  I can forage in my pyjamas if the mood takes me.  Not that I do.  But I could…!

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So how do cherry plums differ from their commercially grown cousins?  Well, for a start, they are quite a bit smaller – somewhere between a jumbo cherry and an apricot.  They also come in an appealing range of colours, from pale yellow (like ours) through to a deep red, more like cultivated plums.  They are also high in pectin which makes them great for jams – if you can resist eating them fresh!  Although I've read on some sites that they are tart when eaten fresh, I found mine to be nice and sweet, possibly because they were windfall fruit and properly ripe. 

In any event, I was left with an embarrassment of choice as to what to do with my bounty.  But in the end for my first recipe I turned to my favourite baked goods – muffins.  A luck would have it, there was half a packet of desiccated coconut lurking in the cupboard left over from another recipe and voila – a muffin was born.  I played a bit fast and loose with the volume of fruit in this recipe that I adapted from the New Zealand Woman's Weekly as I wanted to use up a lot quickly, and the added plums probably made the muffins more moist than usual, which I like.  I also skipped the coconut essence as I had none to hand and substituted desiccated coconut for the thread coconut sprinkles – but the end result did not suffer.  It's a great flavour combination and will definitely be repeated next plum season!

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CHERRY PLUM & COCONUT MUFFINS (makes 12)

Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients:

90g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp coconut essence
½ cup plain yoghurt
2½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup milk
½ cup desiccated coconut
1 cup diced plums, with stones removed
¼ cup thread coconut, to sprinkle

Method:

1. Heat oven to 180°C. Grease 12 standard muffin pans or line with paper cases.

2. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, coconut essence and yoghurt. Stir in flour, then milk and finally desiccated coconut, stirring just enough to combine. Gently fold in plums.

3. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pans. Sprinkle surface with thread coconut and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bron September 19, 2009 at 2:31 am

I’ve just come in from mowing the lawn around my plum trees, would you believe?
No fruit on them yet, actually we’ll be lucky to get any, they’re not so healthy if I’m really honest..
These look stunning, gorgeous and I could really go one right now, who I am kidding I’ll take two please!

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Johanna September 19, 2009 at 5:11 am

oh that makes me nostalgic for the cherry plum tree that we had in our back yard as kids – it had so many fruit that a lot were squished on the ground – we just ate them fresh a lot – the flesh was very sweet and had a tart red skin – and sometimes my mum stewed them and served them with icecream

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nina September 19, 2009 at 10:06 am

I tell you this is better than winning the lotto, because the tree will just keep on giving and you can keep on inventing new ways to use the fruit. Lovely!!

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Bellini valli September 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm

I tried cherry plums for the first time this year. I thought they were a fruit from the gods. They come in a myriad of coloursapparently.

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Kit September 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm

How great to get unexpecteed windfalls like that. I’ve just borrowed the coconut and fruti idea to make some muffins with some leftover Cape gooseberries … unfortunately the power has just gone off 10 mins into cooking time :( I’m hoping that they’ll finsh cooking if I leave them in for a bit longer, even with the power off, fingers crossed!

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susan from food blogga September 22, 2009 at 3:03 am

What a lovely post this is, jeanne. Those muffins must be sublime.

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Elle September 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm

These look so lovely! I can’t wait to make them this weekend :) thank you for posting!

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Bordeaux September 24, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Beautiful pictures. Beautiful Muffins.

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Christine Boumont September 25, 2009 at 9:10 pm

All 12 were gone before the day was out. Is this a bad thing?
My kids (3) had some for breakfast and took one for lunch each, I had a few over the course of the day, my husband took one to work with his lunch and the kids had one for desert. They had much chocolate and other sweets to choose from – they wanted these muffins!!!
Thank you so much! This is obviously a favourite now!
Christine Boumont
(ps – I told you guys I’d post the wine review website I was talking about before…just click on my name to get to it! – sorry it took so long!)

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Ambika Venkat October 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Wow, the muffins and plums look gorgeous!!! You have a beautiful blog and lovely photographs!

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