Late-season plum recipes: Plums mark the moment that summer turns to autumn, lending their sweetness to puddings and main meals alike. Try them on toast with chilli and labneh or in this frangipane tart with star anise

My uncle used to have a plum orchard, which I played in with my cousins. At the base of the orchard there was a shallow, snaking river from where wed collect the mud to make our famous mud plum pies they were one of our favourite things to make every autumn. The recipe would vary from one day to the next, but in principle the pie would consist of over-ripe, wasp-eaten plums bound together in a smooth, grey, clay mud. If we had time we might embellish the pie with a generous coating of wood shavings, but that kind of finish was reserved for special occasions.

Nine times out of 10, the mud plum pies would be hurled at someone, long before they got a chance to be cooked, and all too often, that was at the farm boy from down the road (sorry, farm boy). But once in a while wed arrange a few around the edge of a big camp fire and watch them bake. I remember them looking weirdly appetising; the mud was all cracked like good-looking pastry, covered with all the blistered sticky fruit.

Ive always been a fan of plums with roast pork. That orchard would have been a brilliant place to keep pigs there were always so many windfall plums their meat would have no doubt been delicious. The Oxford sandy and black, a traditional breed of pig we keep at River Cottage, would have suited the orchard perfectly. They are widely nicknamed the plum pudding pig owing to their colouring: chestnut red with splashes of black.

It seems fitting to include a plum pudding, of the wholly edible sort, in this weeks batch of recipes. Its a bit of a timeless classic: plum and almond tart. Ive spiked the frangipane a rich almond paste with star anise, a pungently sweet and aromatic spice that complements plums beautifully. To up the ante, I like to spread the base of the pastry case with a good plum or damson jam, bakewell-style.

Plums, damsons and greengages are all wonderful eaten raw, but there are plenty of ways to cook them, particularly if you have a glut. In a village near me, there is a damson tree; the fruit is bruised blue and black with silver dusted skin. By the end of the season much of the fruit is blemished, split or scarred, but still its ripe and sweet and theres lots of it. Its these less-perfect damsons that I use to make ice-cream for the freezer or a rich fruity jam my recipe is below.

Plums are not limited to puddings, however. I like to cook them down with chilli and garlic to create a strongly flavoured panful and to pair this with labneh, a Lebanese-style strained yoghurt cheese. The combination of the plums intensity and the cooling tang of the labneh sits beautifully atop a piece of toast, which absorbs all the rich juices. Quite the autumn lunch …

Plums with labneh, rosemary chilli and toast

Serves 4
12 plums
30g butter, for frying
1 tbsp olive oil, for frying
1 small red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 sprigs rosemary
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp honey
4 slices of bread

For the labneh
500ml natural yoghurt
2 pinches of salt

The cooling tang of the labneh sits beautifully with the chilli-spiked plums. Photograph: Elena Heatherwick for the Guardian

1 Start by making the labneh. This can be done several days in advance or at least 12 hours before you eat it. Put the yoghurt in a bowl and stir in the salt. Line a sieve with a square of clean muslin, cheesecloth or even a clean thin cotton cloth. Spoon the salted yoghurt into the centre of the cloth, then gather up the sides. Tie the cloth at the top and hang up to drain over a bowl for 68 hours, or overnight. I do this by hanging in my fridge with a bowl set underneath to catch the liquid.

2 Once drained, untie and lift the labneh from the cloth into a bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

3 Halve the plums and remove the stones. Heat a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. When bubbling, add the plums, cut-side down. Caramelise a little then carefully turn over. Add the chilli and rosemary. Season lightly. Once the fruit is tender, trickle over the honey. Grill the bread on both sides.

4 To serve, spread the labneh on the toast and top with the plums, trickled with some of the syrupy, herby juices from the pan.

Plum and almond tart with star anise and vanilla

Serves 8-10
90g icing sugar
340g plain flour
170g butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for greasing
1 egg
2 tbsp iced water

For the frangipane
110g unsalted butter
110g golden caster sugar
vanilla pod, seeds scraped
2 star anise, finely crushed
3 eggs, beaten
110g ground almonds
12-16 ripe plums
4 tbsp plum jam (see below)
A handful of flaked almonds

1 Combine the icing sugar and plain flour, then rub in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can also do this in a food processor). Add the egg and iced water, and stir to combine. Tip out the dough and bring it together with your hands, kneading lightly to achieve a smooth finish. Tightly wrap the pastry in clingfilm, then put it in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

2 Set the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 2-3mm thick. Grease and flour a 28cm loose-bottomed tart tin, then lay over the pastry, tucking it into the corners and leaving an overhang. Line the pastry case with parchment and baking beans. Blind-bake the tart case for 25 minutes, then remove the baking beans, trim the overhang, and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the base is just starting to colour. Remove and set aside.

3 For the frangipane, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla seeds and star anise until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and ground almonds, then mix until well combined.

4 Halve and stone the plums. Spread the jam over the base of the pastry case then spoon in the frangipane mix. Arrange the plums on top. Push them in lightly with your fingers. Scatter with the flaked almonds.

5 Bake for 2535 minutes or until golden and set on the outside but still a little soft in the middle. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

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