Three Sweets with September Stone Fruits

07 Sep 2022

The month that sings summer’s swan song as much as autumn’s earliest notes, offering up too all manner of hedgerow sustenance and stone fruits by the trugful. In celebration of the glorious greengage, damson and cherry, our resident food writer Flora Shedden dedicates this month’s recipe column to the tempoting trio…

Damson and Apple Jelly

Makes roughly 2 x 220ml jars


700g damsons
4 apples (Granny Smiths work well)
Juice of 1 lemon
300g water
300-500g caster sugar


1. Chop the apples into chunks and add to a saucepan with the damsons (left whole), lemon juice and water.
2. Allow the contents of your pan to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until juicy and the fruit is completely soft. The stones from the damsons should have lost their flesh by this point too.
3. Pour the fruit into a jelly bag or a sieve lined with a clean muslin cloth. Allow to stand and strain into a bowl for a minimum of 3 hours, but ideally overnight.
4. Once the fruit is well strained (you can squeeze the bag or cloth to make sure, but do note this will cloud the jelly) discard the remaining pulp.
5. Weigh the resulting liquid into a large saucepan and add an equal volume of sugar (I got 360g liquid so added 360g sugar, but don't worry if you got more or less. so long as the sugar to fruit ratios are the same).
6. Next, preheat your oven to 100C (fan). While it’s warming, place your pan over the heat and bring it to the boil.
7. As your jam mixture heats, sterilise our jam jars by washing them and their lids in hot, soapy water. Rinse and place them in your preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until completely dry.
8. When your jelly is boiling, use a spoon to carefully skim off any scum that appears on the top. Cook through until your jelly reaches 103C, then remove it from the heat.
9. To check it’s ready, perform the wrinkle test (place a small amount of jelly on a clean plate and place in the fridge of the freezer for 5 minutes. Remove and use your index finger to push the jelly in the middle – if it wrinkles on top, you’re good to go. If it doesn't and the liquid floods back into the middle, return to a medium heat for another 5 minutes before repeating the test.
10. Once ready, carefully pour your jelly into the hot, sterilised jars. Place on the lids then set aside to cool down completely.
11. Store in a cool dry place and you’ll be able to enjoy your jelly all autumn and winter long.

I particularly relish it on toast with butter, cream cheese or ricotta, or sandwiched between cakes with lashings of cream.

Blackcurrant Leaf Panna Cotta with Cherries

Makes 4-6

225g double cream
225g whole milk
10g fresh blackcurrant leaves
75g caster
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 sheets of gelatine for a soft wobbly set (or two if you prefer a firmer set)

125g pitted and halved cherries
50g caster
50g water
1 tbsp brandy

Rose petals, to serve

1. Place the double cream, milk, blackcurrant leaves, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
2. Meanwhile, add the gelatine leaves to a bowl with cold water and allow them to soften.
3. Once softly bubbling, remove the cream from the heat and allow it to cool down for five minutes.
4. Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and stir them into the warm cream mix.
5. Set aside to infuse for 20 minutes, tasting the mixture as you go. If the flavour is strong enough, go ahead and strain it. If no, leave for a further 10-15 minutes to make things punchier.
6. Pour the strained cream into ramekins or pudding moulds (you can also serve these in little glasses) and set aside in the fridge for at as little as 4 hours or as long as two days.
7. For the cherries, place everything in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
8. Continue to cook until you have a rich pink syrup and the fruit has softened, but still holds its shape. Then, set aside to cool.
9. To serve, place the ramekin or pudding mould in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds to loosen the panna cotta. Place a serving plate on top then quickly flip the panna cotta over to release. Repeat for each serving and spoon some cherries and syrup around the outside of the panna cotta with a little scattering of rose petals to finish.

P.S. This would be equally as tasty if you can't access blackcurrant leaves. Simply omit them from the recipe and follow the steps as normal.

Greengage and Marzipan Cake

Makes 1 x 20cm cake

175g marzipan
125g unsalted butter, softened
50g light brown sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
75g plain or 00 flour
3 eggs
12 greengages
A small handful of almonds, or macadamia nuts, chopped
A sprinkle of cinnamon

1. Grease and line your baking tin, and preheat your oven to 170C (fan).
2. In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the marzipan, butter and sugar until smooth.
3. Next, add the salt, baking powder and flour and blitz again until just combined.
4. Finally, tip in the eggs and blitz once more until smooth – you may need to stop and scrape down the sides once or twice. Once smooth and well combined, pour into your prepared cake tin.
5. Cut the greengages in halves and quarters depending on their size and arrange half of them over the top of the cake.
6. Bake for 25 minutes before gently opening the oven and pulling out the cake on its shelf. At this point, carefully add the rest of the greengages, the nuts, a sprinkling of brown sugar and a little bit of cinnamon on the top.
7. Return to the oven again, being careful not to knock the cake and cause it to sink. (Adding half of the greengages halfway through ensures they don't all sink to the bottom).
8. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out the centre of the cake clean.
9. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin, and serve a hearty wedge with crème fraîche and a dusting of icing sugar.

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