Anne Series · Montgomery

Marilla’s Matchless Plum Puffs

Author: Montgomery, L.M.
Book: Anne of Avonlea
Difficulty rating: Pride & Prejudice
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

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The cheerful super table, with the twins’ bright faces, and Marilla’s matchless plum puffs … of which Davy ate four … did “hearten her up” considerably after all. (Montgomery 99)

Did it measure up?

If these plum puffs were described as “matchless” and cheered Anne after her “Jonah Day,” then they should, well, taste good. But LMM’s plum jam recipe didn’t turn out great (both times), and the authentic recipe for plum puffs that we tried was absolute garbage. So we set forth to create the plum puffs of our imaginings!

We had both pictured something like a cream puff, but with plum jam inside. We decided that for added deliciousness, we would add custard too.

When I copied the recipe for my mother’s famous custard, I mistakenly wrote “1 tbs vanilla” instead of “1 tsp,” so it was a bit too vanilla-ey, and it turned the custard into an unbeautiful brownish color instead of the classic pale gold. But it still tasted good.

We made the puffs bite-size, but I’d like to try them big — like Japanese choux cream, which are the size of a child’s fist.

MARILLA’S (NOT SO) MATCHLESS PLUM PUFFS

Tools/Utensils:

  • Food scale
  • Hand mixer
  • Stand mixer, made ready with the paddle attachment
  • 2-3 pastry bags (or parchment paper)
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • One 1/2-inch pastry bag tip
  • Two 1/4-inch pastry bag tips

Filling Ingredients:

  • 300cc milk
  • 80g sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1.5 tbs flour
  • 1.5 tbs corn starch
  • 1 tbs melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Whipping cream
  • Plum jam (we used Jenne’s plum and apricot jam, since both our batches of Marilla’s plum preserve weren’t that great. Basically, you’ll want a tart jam for this.)

Choux Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
  • 5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
  • 2 tbs whole milk
  • 6 tbs water
  • 1.5 sp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (2.5 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Cooking spray

Make the Cream Filling:
Based on my mother’s cream pan custard recipe

1. Heat the milk over high heat until it’s just about to boil. It should have a thin film on top.

2. Put the egg yolks in a bowl and mix a little. Add sugar and beat until it turns paler in color. Sift the flour and corn starch as you beat them in, so the mixture doesn’t get all gluey.

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3. Add a little of the hot milk, and then beat thoroughly with a whisk. Add the rest of the milk and mix well again.

4. Strain the mixture into a pot and put on medium heat. Mix with a wooden spatula until it’s thicker in consistency. Once it’s thick enough, beat with an electric mixer until it’s nice and creamy.

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5. Heat again until it bubbles.

6. Add butter and vanilla, and then mix. Put plastic wrap right on the surface of the custard, and then let it cool.

7. Whip cream till you get stiff peaks and mix it in (a half and half custard to whipped cream ratio).

Make the Choux:
Adapted from recipes from Cooks Illustrated & Richard Bertinet’s Pastry: A Master Class for Everyone, in 150 Photos and 50 Recipes

1. Beat the eggs and egg white in a small bowl. You should have a ½ cup. (Discard any extra.) Set aside for later.

2. Bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring once or twice. When it reaches a full boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon/heatproof spatula. The mixture should clear the sides of the saucepan.

3. Return the saucepan to low heat. Stir constantly, using a smearing motion, until the mixture is a little shiny and looks like wet sand. Little beads of fat should appear on the bottom of the saucepan. (This should take about 3 minutes. If you use an instant-read thermometer, the dough should be 175-180 degrees.)

4. Transfer the mixture to the stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment for 1 minute.

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5. Add the eggs, 1/3 at a time, while keeping mixer going. You might not need all the egg (we did!) — the mixture should be smooth and glossy, but firm enough to hold shape for piping.

6. Adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven and heat to 425 degrees.

7. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.

8. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip (ours was narrower, so we should had to squeeze out more with each choux.) Fold down the top 3-4 inches. Fill the bag with the dough. Unfold the bag, lay it down, and push the dough toward the tip. [I’ve also used a Ziploc bag for this and it worked fine or actually better -Jenne]

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9. Twist the top of the bag and pipe the paste into 1.25- to 1.5-inch mounds onto the baking sheet, with 1 inch in between. You can use fingertip dipped in cold water to even out the shape.IMG_6063

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10. DON’T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR WHILE BAKING. Bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue to bake, 8-10 minutes more, till the choux are golden brown and firm.

11. Take the sheet out of the oven. Cut a 3/4-inch slit into the side of each puff and put the puffs back in the oven, propping the oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Turn the oven off and dry the puffs out until the centers are just moist, and the outside is crisp — this should take about 45 minutes.

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12. Transfer the puffs to a wire rack to cool.

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Assemble the Plum Puffs:

1. Fit two pastry bags with 1/4-inch tips. Fill one with the cream. Fill the other with plum jam.

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2. Pipe a little jam (not too much!), and then some pastry cream through the slit in the side of each puff. (Fill each puff until the pastry cream starts to ooze out the side.)

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3. Serve with a cup of tea. (We used our rosebud spray tea set in honor of the occasion.)

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Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Avonlea. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc., 1909.

3 thoughts on “Marilla’s Matchless Plum Puffs

  1. Hi, thanks for the effort you made with trying out some of the Anne recipes. Could you maybe try out a vintage recipe for lemon pie or pies with whipped cream? And a layer cake with jelly or a gold-and-silver cake (filled and iced)? And a cream of onion soup?

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    1. I’m definitely intrigued by gold-and-silver cake! I’m sure we’ll get to more Anne recipes at some point. In the meantime though, I must express how nice it is to get a comment from a true Anne fan — it’s obvious you are one from the reference to gold-and-silver cake; I can count on one hand the number of people I personally know who read Ingleside.

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      1. Hi, sorry for answering so late. I never thought about it, but I guess I’m a fan of the Anne books. Honestly, I like most the first 3 books, but I read also Anne of Windy Poplars (and was disappointed that Gilbert is barely mentioned in the book) and Anne’s House of Dreams and Anne of Ingleside (I thought it’s a bit boring, but then I finished it because I was interested in the historical aspect). The Anne and Rilla-books I did not like, so I did not finish reading it and the other books I don’t know (I think Rainbow Valley was never translated in my country. I’m not from a English speaking country. By the way, sorry if I make mistakes). My favorite Anne book is Anne of the Island.
        I stumbled over your page because I heard about the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook from Kate McDonald (the new version) and ordered it. And when I read the recipes I thought some were never mentioned in the books (Gilbert’s hurry up dinner, Miss Stacy’s baked Macaroni) or some seemed to be not completely right (the layer cake, coconut macarons). That’s the reason why I searched a bit about the Anne-recipes in the internet and then I found your food-concordance. And I thought it’s an interesting website. You try to make historically accurate recipes and I like that.
        I really was disappointed by the Anne cook book. I thought when Kate McDonald is a relative of Lucy M. Montgomery she maybe has some original recipes from her or at least she tries to include historical recipes which are actually mentioned in the books. What you think about her cookbook? E.g. the coconut macrons. I looked in my version of the Anne of Windy Poplars book and it’s just written “macrons”, not which kind of macrons. So I compared it with your food concordance list (because I don’t own a Anne book in English) and you also just mention “macrons”, but in the same chapter of the book is mentioned “coconut pie”. Maybe Kate McDonald confused something. But the fact that they had coconut pie, basically means, the macrons are not coconut macrons, because it doesn’t make sense to serve 2 things with coconut in it (and I know coconut macrons only as Christmas cookies and I don’t think it was Christmas in the book). Could it not be, with macrons are these colorful French, filled macrons are meant? Same with Davy’s butterscotch pudding. That’s a caramel pudding, but in the book was just mentioned he eats pudding with syrup. Would it not be too sweet to eat caramel pudding with syrup? I guess L. Montgomery had a different kind of pudding in mind. I searched in the internet about a Canadian pudding with syrup and found something called pudding chomeur. I just don’t know since when this kind of pudding exists, but maybe it was the pudding Davy liked so much. What you think?

        The apple dumplings were also not mentioned in the books, in your list I found just plum puffs and apple puffs. Corn soufflé, chocolate goblin’s food cake, white sands tomatoes and Matthews biscuit sandwiches also not mentioned in the books.

        The Monkey faces look like Muffins in the cookbook, but in the novel it was called “cookies”. I never heard of monkey face cookies and could not find anything about it in the internet, but maybe it just were cut-out-cookies in the shape of a monkey face?
        The vegetable soup tasted very good, but in the chapter of the book Anne makes a cream of onion soup. So, why Kate McDonald did not include a recipe for cream of onion soup?
        And the egg sandwiches? I understand that she must have guessed which kind of sandwich it could have been, because it’s just mentioned that Anne makes sandwiched for a picnic. But the novel is set in the late 19th century. So they had to make the mayo by themselves and mayo and eggs are nothing you should carry around with you for a long time in the heat. I don’t think it could have been egg-sandwiches. And how could she include a layer cake without red jelly? Also the decoration of the cakes (on the photos in the cookbook) does not look very pretty and don’t resemble the time in which the story is set in.

        Bye. Judith

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