Here’s a little diversionary reading for those of you weathering the storm along the east coast today. Stay warm, dry and safe and if your power goes out, you can make this dessert on top of a camp stove:
The steady pitter-patter of rain on the yurt along with chilly temperatures last week while we were up at camp awoke my dormant inner baker. After months of hot summer weather, I suddenly felt the urge to create something warm with sugar and flour. So I made a slump.
Don’t worry everyone, I’m not in a slump, I made a slump. It’s a little-known dessert – not just a depressed state of mind – with New England origins. It can be baked stovetop (or more accurately steamed since it’s dumplings that create the crust). And since we’re ovenless up at camp but do have access to a trusty two-burner Coleman stove I decided to give it a whirl.
After slicing up all those luscious, colorful fruits, mixing them with sugar and dropping the dumplings on top to “bake” in our cast iron skillet, we lit the wood stove and hunkered down next to it to wait. We warmed our surprised, still-in-the-summer-mindset toes as the spicy scent of cinnamon and harvest fruits filled the air . It all made me feel a bit nostalgic thinking of the blissful summer days that had already zipped by and of the shorter, crisper days of autumn waiting just around the corner.
But the nostalgia soon gave way to hunger and anticipation as we sat down to enjoy our Peach, Nectarine and Apple Slump. It looked beautifully rustic on top of the old pine table. The aromatic crust and the warm fruit melted in our mouths. And to think that all of this deliciousness was created so simply, in the middle of the woods. It was a perfect dessert for a rainy day at camp – and when we put our forks down, nobody felt like they were in a slump. In fact, we were all very happy campers.
Late Summer Peach, Nectarine and Apple Slump
If you have a surplus of summer fruit in your bowl, it’s a great way to use it up; if you like to camp and bake, this is wonderful recipe for your repertoire. Inspired by an entry in Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson’s “Rustic Fruit Desserts”.
For the Fruit Base:
3 large peaches, 2 large nectarines, and 1 large apple pitted and cored – or about three pounds of prepped fruit. Don’t worry about peeling the fruit.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Slice the fruit into a medium sized bowl allowing about 10-12 slices per piece of fruit. Do not dice the fruit as having larger chunks will add more texture and substance to the finished product.
In a smaller, separate bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt and then toss with the sliced fruit. Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the fruit and its juices to a 10 to 12 inch skillet or a dutch oven (whatever pan you choose should have a tight fitting lid so that you can cover the fruit and dumpling mixture to cook and should be deep so the fruit juices don’t overflow the sides during cooking) and allow it to sit for 15 minutes while the fruit juices release.
Now bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and allow to cook for about two minutes stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit and syrup from sticking. Remove from the heat when the mixture is slightly thickened. Be careful not to break up the fruit too much during this initial cooking.
Set aside the thickened mixture and move onto making the dumplings.
For the Dumplings:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cold buttermilk (or 1 cup milk combined with 1 TBS cider vinegar or 1 TBS lemon juice, left to sit 5 minutes – this will make a perfectly acceptable substitute for buttermilk)
For the dumplings, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Add the butter and toss with your fingers or cut with a pastry blender until the chunks are the size of peas. Add the buttermilk – or your homemade buttermilk substitute – and stir until the mixture comes together. It will be a wet dough, don’t worry.
Spoon the dough over the surface of the warm fruit in eight dumpling portions. Place the pan to the stovetop and return to a simmer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through. Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Best served the day it’s made.