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Plump, sweet prunes for breakfast, desserts

Before the days of refrigeration, dried fruits such as prunes were kitchen staples and an important fruit for winter. They were used in muffins and breads for breakfast, in sauces for drizzling over pancakes, in creamy-smooth butters, or just by themselves.

At dessert time, they appeared in tall cakes laced with spices and other fruits, or whipped with fresh, rich cream.

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Today, more prunes are produced in Northern and Central California than in any other part of the world.

It's easy to plump prunes. Simply combine equal parts (cups) prunes and liquid, water or apple or orange juice, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Apple Prune Dowdy 12 ounces, about 2 cups, pitted prunes, halved 2 cups sliced apples 1 cup orange juice 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup butter, softened 1/4 cup sugar 1 egg 3/4 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon grated orange peel 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup milk In 11/2-quart shallow baking dish layer prunes and apples; pour juice over and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover and bake in 350 degrees F. oven about 30 minutes until apples are tender.

Meanwhile, in mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, flour, baking powder, peel, and salt. Stir in milk to blend thoroughly.

Spread evenly over fruit and continue to bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes until top is lightly browned.

Break up top before serving and top with cream or vanilla ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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