Nicola Galloway’s summer plum cobbler

Plum season is here, delivering its delicious assortment in different shapes, sizes and flavours.

Words and Images: Nicola Galloway

I tend to categorise plums into two different types. The super juicy, best eaten over a sink varieties, and the firm-fleshed fruit that is well suited for cooking. The likes of luisa, santa rosa and burbank are juicy plums, while black doris, omega and prune plums are the ones I search out to use in cooking.

Of course, there will be some crossover here, and all plums can be eaten raw — but some if cooked will simply become a puddle of juice, while others will hold their shape better. Prune plums (or zwetschgen) are the firmest of the lot, and as their name suggests, dehydrate well into prunes. They are a smaller plum with a distinct oval shape and deep purple skin, with surprisingly light coloured flesh.

A less common plum to find commercially, I search them out at local produce stalls which specialise in heritage fruit varieties. My German husband introduced them to me with memories of his Oma using them in cakes. During the season I am obliged to make a few cakes and bakes: a fruit cobbler being a wonderful way to showcase the fruit. When used in a cake, I veer on the side of more plum than cake, which can make for deliciously messy eating. It’s best eaten in a bowl with runny cream.

Other firm fleshed plums such as the ones mentioned above can be used in the recipe that follows. Or use any firm-fleshed summer stonefruit for that matter; peaches, apricots and cherries, or a combination, would all work well. Enjoy this summer dessert that is a match for winter’s crumble.

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Spiced Plum Cobbler

Plums work wonderfully in a cobbler, and I am making the most of them being the heart of the season. For darker plums, such as the zwetschgen prune plums I used, a robust spice such as mixed spice is perfect. For a lighter fruit such as apricots or peaches you may want to use vanilla extract for a more subtle flavour complement.

An extra note: If using gluten-free flour for the cobbler topper it will be quite a delicate dough. Do your best to shape it, and it will cook up just fine.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
Serves 4 (generously)


about 800g plums or other stone fruit
3 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp mixed spice
juice of half a lemon, 1-2 tbsp
1 tbsp cornflour

Cobbler topper
1 cup (150g) flour (can use plain, spelt or gluten-free)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
zest of 1 lemon, about 2 tsp
pinch salt
75g cold butter, cut into 1cm cubes
about 3 tbsp plain yoghurt
cream or milk for brushing
slivered almonds for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 190C (fan 170C). Lightly grease a 25cm round or square baking dish.

Prepare the fruit. Halve the plums (or stone fruit used) and remove the stones. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Place into a bowl and toss with the sugar, spice, lemon juice and cornflour. Tip into the prepared dish and set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, lemon zest and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub into the dry ingredients until a breadcrumb-like texture is achieved.

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Add 3 tablespoons of the yoghurt, and use a butter knife to mix into a soft dough. Add extra yoghurt if needed to bring together the dough.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured bench and gently press out to 1.5cm thickness. Use a small cookie cutter (4-5cm wide) or small glass to cut the dough into rounds. Gathering up the scraps and pressing out until the dough is used.

Dot the dough rounds over the fruit and brush lightly with cream or milk. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of sugar and a handful of slivered almonds.

Place the dish into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the cobbler topping is golden. Serve warm, with runny cream or custard.

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