Autumn brings an abundance of fruits, the flavours of which are greatly enhanced by gentle poaching. Damsons and quinces work well in this recipe too, if you can get hold of them. It’s important to poach each type of fruit separately, as they all cook at slightly different rates.
These are great served at breakfast time, but also make a lovely easy dessert when spooned over vanilla ice cream with a dash of Cointreau.
You can substitute the red wine with cranberry juice if you prefer, though the wine gives richness and depth to the fruit. We have given times for poaching but, as with all food, it’s a natural product, so keep your eye on it as times can vary.
If you want to elevate this mixture when you have people to dinner, take a slice of brioche, dust with icing sugar, grill and place on a plate. Spoon some warmed fruits on top, drizzle a little of their syrup around, then top with a spoonful of clotted cream.
75g golden caster sugar
300ml red wine
7.5cm strip of orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 clove
2 medium Bramley apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 segments
2 Conference pears, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 segments
2 red plums, quartered and pitted
75g blackberries, halved if large
Pour 300ml of water into a large, wide pan and add the sugar, wine, orange zest and clove. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add the apple segments and cover, poaching gently for 7–10 minutes until soft and plump. (Don’t increase the heat as this will cause the fruit to overcook.) Remove carefully with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Repeat this process with the pears and plums, cooking each fruit separately and lifting them out when just tender. This could take anywhere from a few minutes for ripe plums, to 25 minutes for harder pears, so keep your eye on them.
Discard the orange peel (reserve for decoration if you like) and clove, then increase the heat to reduce the poaching liquid by half.
Place the blackberries in the bowl with the rest of the fruit, then pour over the poaching liquor and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.