This is a very simple recipe, but one that works wonders with most stone fruits. My favourite way is with apricots, which are rarely nice to eat raw, but in the oven turn into the most magical marigold morsels.
There’s a sad and common occurrence, to which I’m sure you can all relate. While a perfect stone fruit (peach, plum, nectarine, apricot) at the peak of its ripeness is a thing of beauty, such specimens are sometimes few and far between. Too often I’ve been disappointed by floury peaches, sour and astringent plums, or grainy, fluffy and bland apricots. There are few things more disappointing than finding out your precious cargo of fruit is barely edible.
Don’t panic, though, for the answer is at hand. It’s something you’ll have ready and waiting to come to the rescue: an oven. With the introduction of a little searing heat, disappointing stone fruits can be coaxed into melting, unctuous deliciousness. Yes, you’ll miss that fresh, fragrant juice, but you’ll end up with something arguably even better: soft, rich, sweet and deeply flavoursome, all the taste concentrated by the heat of the oven, bathed in syrupy juices.
In this recipe, the apricots soften in texture and release gorgeous honeyed juice. I coat them in a mixture of honey, orange blossom water and vanilla, before scattering over some brown sugar which caramelises in the oven. The orange blossom and vanilla lend a lovely sweet perfume to the fruit.
I like to eat this for breakfast, spooned over porridge, but it would also make a fabulous dessert with some vanilla ice cream, and maybe a few toasted almonds or pistachios scattered over. However, don’t stop there. Try this with plums, substituting rosewater for the orange blossom water. Use peaches instead, and drizzle with some syrup from a jar of stem ginger and some lime zest. As long as you have the basic combination of stone fruit, sugar, honey and flavouring, you can’t go wrong.
You need never be disappointed by an inferior fruit again.