There are a number of reasons why the following Plum Crazy Bread could be considered SFN (Something for Nothing), and, in no particular order, here they are: it’s fun, and fun is always worth something (when you add the baking soda, the batter foams up a lot, so be prepared); canned fruit is the main ingredient and canned fruit is inexpensive and easy to keep on hand; the recipe can be baked in two, recycled 30-ounce tin cans and looks pretty and rustic; when you’re not using the cans to bake, you can keep small bags of beans and things in them on your pantry shelf, so the bags won’t fall over; you can alter this recipe almost infinitely to suit what you have on hand–I have used plums, peaches, and pears, unbleached flour, whole wheat pastry flour (won’t rise quite as much)–nothing seems to phase it. You can use nuts, raisins, dried cranberries. . . Using pureed rhubarb will be my next experiment. Bananas–how could I forget bananas? Also worth a try. And you can reduce the sugar easily to 3/4 cup. The most important thing, of course, is that it tastes good–it’s moist, fruity, and delicious and gets better with each passing day. Apparently, it may be stored in the fridge for three weeks, but mine never lasts that long. (I tried to decorate the top of each loaf with almonds, but as you can see, I need to keep working on this!)
Plum Crazy Bread
1 30-ounce can purple plums
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat over to 350 degrees and prepare two, 30-ounce, recycled, impeccably clean tin cans by greasing with shortening. Cut out two circles of waxed paper and put one on each greased can bottom. (Trace around the can with a pencil on waxed paper and cut out to make circles.)
Pit prunes and drain juice into small bowl and save. Puree prunes in blender. Measure the puree–you should have two cups. If not, add some of the reserved juice. Pour puree into a two-quart saucepan and heat over low heat. Add the stick of butter and stir a few times until it melts. Set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients. Stir the baking soda thoroughly into the pureed fruit. It will foam up, and in the case of the plums, turn grey. Not to worry!
Stir in the remaining ingredients, ending with the dried fruit or nuts. The batter should be moist and pourable. If it seems stiff, add a few tablespoons of reserved juice*–don’t be afraid to do this! Remove the top shelf from the oven, and place a cookie sheet into the oven, resting on the lower shelf. This makes room for the cans. Then set the filled cans on the cooking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool for ten to fifteen minutes, and then turn out of their cans.
*Why might this happen? Your flour might be drier than mine. Or, you may have a little less fruit.
Notes: The step of using a circle of waxed paper may seem fussy, but it ensures that the bread will pop out of the can easily. The original recipe used canned plums, but 30-ounce cans of plums aren’t always available and using smaller sizes quickly becomes expensive. I stock up on the large size at Aldi’s during the holidays. Other canned fruits–even fruit cocktail would be worth a try–work fine. Can sizes can vary from 28 to 30 ounces. This bread can also be baked in one 9 x 5″ pan, or three 5-3/4 x 3-1/4″ pans.
To give as a gift: While the bread is cooling, wash the can thoroughly and dry. Replace the bread in the can, and cover with a square of waxed paper. Tie with a piece of twine and add a label. (Don’t leave it in the can to give–the steam from the cooling bread creates too much moisture.)
The original recipe came from “With Love from Your Kitchen,” by Diana & Paul Von Welanetz.