After a bumper summer autumn harvest is finally upon us. The larder begins to fill in preparation for the dark months ahead.

Like all British plums Damsons are only in season for a couple of weeks in September. We use wild fruit from a tree just on the outskirts of our garden. It yells quite an impressive crop…mind you only 40% of fruit is free of unwelcome addition of protein!

Damsons naturally have a very tart taste. So to unlock this fragrant beauty we simply make a preserve with the addition of sugar and star anise. The jam is a single star of a light breakfast but performs equally well in bakewell tarts.

So this week as a celebration of the first Damson crop and the last remains of blueberries we baked-off this simple yet delicious tart.

This recipe consist of four parts: the preserve, almond cream, sweet pastry and tart construction.


Damson jam makes 8 x 340g jars

  • 1.5kg damsons
  • 1.25kg granulated sugar
  • 2 star anise


Remove any debris such as leaves or stems, wash in cold water and dry.

Half the plums and remove stones. Place into a preserving pan with 450ml of cold water, bring to a simmer and cook until the fruit in tender and skins are soft (about 20 minutes). Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, bring to a fast boil until setting point is reached (see below). Skim off any scum that comes to the surface. Leave to cool for a few minutes before filling warm sterised preserving jars (again, see below).


Setting point:

Setting point in preserves is only achieved if your fruit/sugar/pectin/acidity (sounds complex but is easy if you follow recipes) ratios are correct. If you have a jam thermometer you can dip it in your preserves and cook until you reach 104.5 degrees C. If not, then the equally reliable method is the plate test. Put a flat plate into a fridge to chill.  Place a few drops of the preserve onto the plate and push with your finger, if this crinkles then setting point is achieved.


Sterilising jars:

Wash your jars in a soapy water, rinse them throughly and place in a oven at 140 degrees C for 20 minutes.


Almond cream

  • 220g unsalted butter
  • 220g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 220g Ground almonds
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 60g plain flour (sifted)
  • Optional (small drop of damson gin)


Cream the butter and icing sugar together, slowly add the eggs taking care not to split the mixture. Add the ground almonds and flour and mix well.

Store in the fridge for 2-3 hours before use.



Sweet pastry makes approx 1kg

  • 520g plain flour (sifted)
  • 210g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 210g unsalted butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk


Cream the butter and  sugar together. Slowly add the eggs one by one taking extra care not to split the mixture.

Add the  flour and lightly  bring together.

Store in the fridge for 2-3 hours before use.



Roll your pastry to about 4mm. Add a thin layer of your homemade Damson jam on the bottom of the pastry, then add fresh blueberries (not too many or the batter will be too wet).  Using a spoon and palette knife gently ease the almond cream onto the tart up to 2/3 mark in the tin to allow the cream to rise. Return to fridge to chill for 45 minutes.

Bake at 170 degrees C for 35minutes, allow to cool and brush with apricot jam let down with a little water.

Serve warm with a generous mug of of piping hot tea.