Wild Plum and Hogweed Seed Flapjacks

Wild plums are often smaller than shop-bought varieties, more alike to the size of a cherry hence one of their common names being “Cherry Plum”, but what they lack in size they make up for in sweetness and flavour. They’re also known as Mirabelle plums in France and are incredibly popular there, particularly in the Lorraine region where they use them to make a classic plum tart. I love to make wild plum jam that works just as well with a cheeseboard as it does on toast, or spooned over ice cream or yoghurt. This year we didn’t have to go far to find our mirabelle plums, as we discovered a plum tree growing at the back of our new garden!

We’ve harvested about three kilograms of fruit from our bountiful little tree and most has gone in the freezer for the time being for future jams and bakes. I’m keen to try pickling some with some spices which I think would be a perfect condiment for sharing platters of cured meats and cheese over the festive period (I don’t want to jinx anything at this point though), and I’ve been dying to have a go at creating a plum flapjack recipe with another delicious late-summer wild ingredient…

Hogweed seeds have a flavour unlike anything else. I’ve seen them compared to cardamom, orange peel, and ginger, but they really are unique. A close botanical relative is used in Iranian cuisine, golpar, and is often sprinkled over broad beans or pomegranate which I’m keen to try with our UK variety. The flavour of hogweed seeds is one of those that, rather than instantly landing on your palette, instead infuses your entire mouth with warmth in the same way as something like star anise or liquorice (although doesn’t taste of aniseed).

From a foraging point of view, hogweed seeds aren’t something I’d suggest for someone just finding their foraging feet, as common hogweed belongs to a family of plants that also boasts some very deadly specimens like poison hemlock and giant hogweed. Instead I’d encourage those new to foraging to spend time getting to know this plant using the foraging resources I’ve shared in this post.

The combination of warming, fragrant hogweed seeds and sweet, tart wild plums is celebrated in these easy flapjacks which I think are perfect for a late-summer snack. They’re not so heavily spiced that you might think autumn has arrived early, but enough to perk up a cooler day while still retaining a zest of summer. That being said, if you don’t have hogweed seeds, you could swap it out for cardamom or cinnamon, or a combination of the two. The moisture from the plums keeps them soft and squidgy in the middle which I love, but still with enough of a chewy, caramelised top to get your teeth into. Feel free though to swap out the plums for fresh or dried apricots which work just as brilliantly in this recipe. This recipe can also easily be made vegan with a simple swap of unsalted butter for a dairy-free alternative. I’ve instructed to let the flapjacks cool before slicing and serving in the method below because it does make them easier to remove from the tin and slice without everything disintegrating, but I must say they’re rather special served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Wild Plum and Hogweed Seed Flapjacks Recipe (with vegan option)

Ingredients

  • 150g unsalted butter (or vegan alternative if needed)
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 300g rolled porridge oats (not jumbo oats)
  • 80g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground hogweed seeds (or use ground cardamom or ground cinnamon)
  • 250g cherry/mirabelle plums, washed, stoned and halved

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C Fan and grease a 20cm x 20cm (roughly 8 inch) cake tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Sprinkle the plums with 50g of the sugar, toss until covered and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the the butter, syrup, salt and sugar together gently until the ingredients have melted and combined. Stir in the oats, flour and hogweed spice and mix well.
  4. Press half of the flapjack mixture into the bottom of the tin, spread the plums on top and top with the remaining flapjack mix. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until lightly golden.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares to serve

I’d love to know if you have a go at this recipe, and how you adapt it to whatever you might have if hogweed seeds or wild plums aren’t around. Tag me in your posts on Instagram @plotandlane where I love to see and share your creations, or get in touch via the comments below.

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