Sugar Plums with Fresh Ginger and Sparks Flying in My Oven!

Fresh Sugar Plums | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

These California Sugar Plums showed up at our market, like a little gift at the end of summer. They are so sweet and lovely that the first bunch I bought were gobbled up, pure and simple. I returned and bought two more quarts of them with the intention of roasting them. Their flavor is so wonderful and the sugars so developed they didn’t need much adornment. When you cut into the plums the flesh is slightly green, and against the purple skin it is really quite beautiful. I left the skins on, as I am apt to do, but this time I’ll admit that the skins, although pretty, were a little too tough. I was afraid that as the flesh baked the skins would remain too firm.

Well I never got far enough to find out. My oven exploded while I was preheating it. Yes, exploded!

My son and I were in the kitchen, when all the sudden I heard a loud bang and saw sparks flying around the inside of the oven. I turned it off and stayed close by, holding my fire extinguisher, just in case. My neighbor’s house recently burned down from faulty electrical wiring, so I am always prepared and perhaps over cautious. It was quite a scene. Once the oven cooled down enough I opened the door to find that the electrical heating element had combusted (see the picture below). The sparks were caused by it melting onto the metal plate above. It was a dusty, soot filled mess and my oven out of commission. I’ve only had the oven for a year, although it has been a very, very busy year for it. I still don’t think it should have blown up!? Have you ever heard of such a thing?

So there are my plums all ready to go into the oven and now there isn’t one.

One of my favorite flavor combinations is sugar plums with fresh ginger. The intense sweet with a bite. I had combined a little brown sugar with freshly grated ginger and some orange zest. Tossed it all together and now it had to just sit. I wrapped it up and threw it all in the refrigerator. Here’s the recipe:

8 small California Sugar Plums quartered (with or without the skins on)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (I used a Microplane Fine Grater)

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

Grating Ginger | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Preheat the oven to 350° (and hope it doesn’t blow up!) and place the cut plums in a baking dish.

Combining sugar, ginger and orange zest | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Combine the sugar, ginger and orange zest with your fingers until combined.

Sugar Plums with Fresh Ginger Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Sprinkle it over the plums. At this point I would have baked them, with no cover for about an hour, tossing them in the sugar after about 30 minutes and returning them to the oven.

Instead they sat in the refrigerator over night. I opened the refrigerator this morning and tasted one of the plums. To my very pleasant surprise I’d fallen into an even better and more simple way to prepare them. The sugar had melted and the ginger, because it wasn’t heated still had all of its intense and glorious zing. Although I suspect roasting them will be wonderful as well, for now I am thrilled with the fruit that has marinated in the sugar and spices.

Sugar Plums with Fresh Ginger Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

We ate the sugar plums with fresh ginger over whole milk plain yogurt for breakfast, but over vanilla ice cream would be a fabulous dessert!

A pastry chef without an oven. Breathe Zoe, breathe! It can be fixed, no one was hurt and I’ll be back in action on Monday.

29 thoughts to “Sugar Plums with Fresh Ginger and Sparks Flying in My Oven!”

  1. Wow – I’m so glad you and your son weren’t hurt. I imagine as a professional pastry chef you have a really good oven – I hope they replace it for you.

  2. Hi Judy,

    Thanks! We are just fine, albeit a little shocked.

    One would think that I’d have picked a fabulous oven when I recently remodeled my kitchen. The truth of the matter is that I have just an ordinary Frigidaire double wall unit. I actually loved it up until yesterday! I was going to do a professional oven and switched at the 11th hour. It wouldn’t have allowed me to do any testing of recipes for the next book. I have to use an oven that acts like the ovens most homes have. It bakes GREAT bread! I should use past tense. But it will again.

    Thanks! Zoë

  3. oh no zoe! that is my worst nightmare… i’m sorry that happened but at least the kitchen didn’t catch on fire!

    those photos are stunning… seriously… the colors on those plums… i’m in love…

  4. Hi Aran,

    Thanks! I will never leave the house with the oven on again. I have been known to run out for a second while I preheated. Never again!

    Zoë

  5. The element burned out in my oven about a year ago. Aah, the memories… the smoke, the sparks, the noise, the smoke alarm and the scared dog. At the time I had lemon and almond biscotti in the oven, and I had to throw them all away.

  6. WOW! I’ve never heard of such a thing and had no idea that it was possible — especially in an oven only a year old. Scary! But good save on those beautiful plums. How would they be sauteed (does your stovetop work?). I’d love to try this!

  7. Hi Elena,

    I can’t believe this happened to you too. Was it an old oven or new like mine was? I’m so sorry you lost your beautiful biscotti.

    Hi Kellypea,

    I’d never heard of such a thing either, and I’m coming to learn that it isn’t as unusual as it should be!

    I was all set to saute the plums when I took them out of the oven, but they were so good as they were that I left them. I was just going to heat some butter and add the plums, if they needed more liquid then a splash of saki or plum wine would be great, or just a nice white wine.

    Thanks! Zoë

  8. My oven actually did the same thing last year, sparks and everything, it put on quite a show! I just needed to replace the element although I had a bit of time finding the matching one.

  9. Thanks Nate!

    Hi Brilynn,

    I can’t believe how many people have gone through this! How long were you without your oven? My husband found the part on the internet. I have my fingers crossed that it will snap right into place.

    Next I have to deal with the company!

    Zoë

  10. Zoe,

    The oven was older. At the time the element blew out I was renting a home, and I don’t think the oven was more than nine years old. I remember it being a pretty easy repair, but then again, I didn’t have to replace it myself.

    Elena

  11. I’d probably end up sobbing in the fetal position in a kitchen corner if my oven exploded like that. Scary.
    Glad to hear your outcome was much better than your neighbors’. Can never be too over cautious when it comes to fires.

  12. I had something similar happen shortly after I came to FL and cooked electrically for the first time. Took a while to get my confidence back.

    is there anything Ginger does not make better?

    P.

  13. Hi Paul,

    Great to hear from you! I’m sorry you went through that, it is stressful.

    And no, I can’t think of anything that ginger won’t improve! 😉

    Thanks so much sugared! Your blog is wonderful.

    Zoë

  14. Wow. Sorry about your oven. Never heard about an exploding oven before but I guess that’s the proof it can happen. Nice save anyway, those plums marinated in sugar & spice look wonderful!

    Vous-êtes Française?

  15. Hi zenchef,

    Scary indeed. I’ve vowed never to leave the oven unattended again!

    I married into the name. In fact, I married him because of the name. 😉

    Zoë

  16. Wow the only thing that has ever exploded in my oven was my baking stone while I was preheating it in my oven to bake my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day loaf! Save the pieces I yelled. It is in two pieces but still bakes up great loaves. Must be that great recipe!! Glad you survived!

  17. Wow… no one needs this kind of excitement! I was without an oven for two weeks last summer and I thought I would go absolutely crazy. As far as the California Sugar Plums…I’ve never eaten them, but am now very anxious to try them.

  18. Hi Robinsue,

    So sorry to hear about your stone. My co-author’s just broke after 10 years of constant use??? I still have never had one break, but I would have said that about my oven too. 😉

    If you just jam the two pieces together you can still use it. I’ve known people to use several unglazed garden tiles pushed together in the oven.

    Happy baking! Zoë

  19. OMG Zoe! I’m so glad you and your son are both ok. I have quite a “moody” oven(to say the least) myself and it’s been one year already since I haven’t used it. That’s why I started baking with my microwave oven.
    What was your oven’s brand?

  20. Hi Lore,

    I have a Frigidaire and up until last week I was quite pleased with it. I don’t own a microwave, although I may soon! 😉

    Zoë

  21. Zoe, my oven blew up back in May. Just behind the electronic timer you could see the fire. The fire behind the instrument panel went for over 10 minutes. I had to quickly turn off the gas to the cook top. It took 2 months to get a replacement oven. That one broke down 2 weeks later. 3rd times the charm I tell myself now. Like you I now hesitate to go outside with the boys when I am baking.

  22. Glad to find your site – not only am I in love with the plums – my oven exploded yesterday while I was doing a roast beest dinner to treat my husband who has been quite ill – the sound like a freight train, the red explosion, the frightened to death dog…all components were there. The stove is about 10 years old (a top of the line Jenn Air electric)thank God the wiring in the house has been updated (the house was built in 1929) so the circut breaker flipped and took the stove down – now all I have to do is wait forever to get someone out here to replace the element -I am 63 years old and have cooked and baked for years and years and years in three countries on every kind of cheap, expensive, medium stove and have never had this happen – what is going on????

    1. Hi Natali,

      My husband ordered a new heating element and installed it, but ours was a year old. I would think yours is still under warrantee. Seems odd that Home Depot won’t help you fix it, especially since it was two days old. I would contact the manufacturer. If they don’t respond, I’d put the word out on Twitter and find out if anyone else is having this issue and how they resolved it.

      BTW – the oven worked great with the new heating element. That oven was great, but the next time I was in the market, I went with a Bosch.

      Good luck! Zoë

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