I have always loved Anne of Green Gables. From the lush, rolling countryside that makes you want to jump into the screen and never leave, to the staunch, sweet goodness of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, to the boyishly handsome, incredibly sweet Gilbert Blythe, I just love everything about the books and the films. One of my favorite scenes takes place with Anne crying her eyes out about today’s tragedy, and Marilla plumping the pillow on the bed and taking it all in stride: “You see if a good cup of tea and some of those plum puffs I made today won’t hearten you,” Marilla says, and suddenly everything seems like it’s going to be all right. I’m not sure exactly what Plum Puffs are, but I know that if I could eat one on a rambling country porch, with the breeze in my hair and a cup of tea steaming beside me . . . I already love them.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Perfect Plum Puffs
(Adapted for my use from King Arthur Flour)
Puff Pastry Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
4 sticks butter or margarine, chilled
1 cup sour cream
Sweet Plum Filling Ingredients:
2 cups plums, peeled and sliced, with pits removed (it took me about 12 plums)
1/2-3/4 cup white sugar, depending on how sweet your plums are
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup cornstarch, mixed with 1-2 tbsp. of water to make a milky liquid
Egg wash and sparkling sugar for topping, if desired
Feel free to make the pastry dough ahead of time and place in the fridge, if you want to save time. To make pastry, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in chilled butter until pieces are no larger than peas. Stir in sour cream to form a shaggy dough (resist urge to add extra liquid– it will come together). Place dough on a floured silpat and roll into a rectangle. Do a “business letter fold” with the dough, and then roll out, again, flouring lightly as necessary to keep from sticking. Do the business fold 3 times, rolling flat each time. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate preferably overnight, or at least several hours, until completely chilled.
To make plum filling, simmer plums, sugar, and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture starts to bubble and fruit is soft and mashable (you can mash fruit, if you want, or just leave it in soft chunks). Mix enough water into cornstarch to make a milky fluid and stir into hot fruit mixture. Stir just until thickened, and then remove from heat (or refrigerate if you’re making plum puffs the next day).
To assemble plum puffs, roll out dough to 1/4″ thickness and cut dough into 4″ squares. Place 1-2 tbsp. of plum filling into the center of each square and brush edges of dough with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water). Fold square over filling into triangle shape and seal edges with a fork. Brush top of puffs with egg wash and top with sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for roughly 20 minutes, but each oven is different, so keep an eye on them and pull when they’re golden brown.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
These plum puffs are based on King Arthur Flour’s homemade Puff Pastry dough– and if you’ve ever discovered that you forgot to buy puff pastry at the store, don’t fear! You can make this little beauty yourself, at home. 🙂 I’ll show you how to make the dough in a second, here.
Peel, remove pits, and slice enough plums to give yourself 2 cups. I needed about 12 plums, so that might be an easier estimate. Put your plums, lemon juice, and white sugar into a medium saucepan on medium low heat and start cooking the fruit down into delicious mush. 😉 Don’t add the cornstarch, yet– we will get to that later.
To make your quick puff pastry, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Use a pastry cutter (my favorite is the Perfect Pie Blender, here) to cut in chilled butter until the pieces are no larger than peas.
Once your butter has been cut in, stir in the sour cream to form a shaggy dough. I’m not going to lie– this part takes some muscle. Resist the urge to add extra liquid– just keep scraping off your spoon and gently mixing, and it will come together.
This next part is how we are going to get all those awesome layers that make puff pastry so, well . . . PUFFY! 🙂 Take your dough and lightly flour your counter so the dough doesn’t stick. Roll the dough into a rectangle, using just enough flour to keep it from sticking– don’t act like you’re running for political office and “spread it on too thick.” 😉
Here is where the magic happens. Take your dough and fold it into thirds– kind of like when you fold a business letter for an envelope. Roll the rectangle out, again, and re-fold. Do this process 3-4 times, and then wrap the final “business letter” in plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge. The dough will stay nice and cold (meaning the fat will stay cold, giving you a nice “puff” when you bake it) until you’re ready for it. Yay!
By now, your plums should be nice and soft and mushy. I smooshed my fruit even more with a potato masher, but you can leave larger pieces of fruit, if you prefer. Mix your cornstarch with just enough water so that you can stir it into a milky fluid and add the cornstarch/water mixture to your hot fruit mixture. In just a few seconds your fruit will start to thicken. Keep stirring until you get kind of a jelly-like substance (about 30 seconds), and remove the mixture from the heat. If you’re short on time, you can pour this fruit jam into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge. Both the dough and the jam will keep for several days, or you can just wait a few hours until both are nice and chilled to go ahead to the next step.
This part is really easy and fun . . . we get to put together our plum puffs! 🙂 To assemble them, roll out your finished dough to 1/4″ thickness and cut the dough into 4″ squares. I just used a square piece of paper as a template and used a pizza cutter to cut around it. Notice that my squares got a little misshapen when I picked them up to move them to the silpat. That’s OK– they will still be delicious when they’re done. 🙂 Place 1-2 tbsp. of plum filling into the center of each square and brush the edges of dough with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water). I put my plum puffs onto a silpat, which is a wonderful gift for yourself or any baker in your life– they fit right onto your cookie sheet, and NOTHING sticks to them. The messiest casserole, the worst pie spillover . . . all the mess wipes right off with ease (get a silpat here).
After I brushed egg wash around the edges of the square, I closed the square into a triangle and used a fork to pinch the edges closed. See how some of the plum filling oozed out? That’s OK. They will be gorgeous and delicious when we’re done. Cut a few slits in the top with scissors, brush with egg wash, again, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar (I prefer the chunky sparkling sugar from King Arthur flour, here, because it doesn’t melt or dissolve, and it gives you that glittery, crunchy crust that you crave on pies, scones, or turnovers). Bake the puffs at 400 degrees for roughly 20 minutes, until they are golden brown. Each oven is different, so keep an eye on them and pull from the heat when they’re golden brown.
Doesn’t that look sinful with that seductive little bit of fruit oozing from the side?
Pour yourself a cup of tea and find a sunny spot. Grab your favorite book or pop in your favorite movie. Take your kids to the park. Sip your tea and nibble your plum puff. Savor the flaky layers of pastry and the sweet, fruity filling.
Have another one if you want. You made these plum puffs. And we all know that desserts you make, yourself, entitle you to have an least two before the calories start to count, right? 😉
Go ahead. Have another one. I won’t tell anyone.
Because you did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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