Friday, July 29, 2011

Plum Delicious. Recipe: Plum Cake

One of the pleasures of summer is the arrival of stone fruits in the market, and I'm a sucker for all of them.  I love fresh, ripe peaches, plums, nectarines, and the fairly new pluots (a cross of plums and apricots).  The only problem is that they tend to be too hard when you buy them.  So you leave them in a bowl or bag on the counter, and then suddenly you have a bushel of ripe fruit that you have to eat in the next 45 seconds or it will spoil.  And of course, I've always bought too much.  So that's an excuse to bake--what better?

Here's a really tasty recipe for a cake topped with plums.  It's simple and not too sweet, and it allows the flavor of the fruit to shine.  You could do this with other fruit, too:  peaches, pears, or apples would work well, I think.  But it's awfully good with plums.  One nice thing about this recipe is that it uses the ordinary, garden-variety plums.  Most cake recipe call for the harder-to-find (but delicious) small Italian prune plums.

PLUM CAKE  (click here for a printer-friendly version of the recipe)


4 or 5 large plums, pitted and cut into wedges

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup oil (such as canola)
½ cup milk
2 large eggs
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

cinnamon sugar (2 tablespoons sugar combined with ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon)
1 tablespoon butter


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine.

3.  Whisk together the eggs, oil, milk, lemon zest and juice in another small bowl.

4.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until it forms a smooth but thick batter.

5.  Pour the batter into a greased 9” springform pan.

6.  Arrange the plum slices on top of the batter.  I start with a ring around the outside edge and make a second ring inside that.

7.  Sprinkle the top with the cinnamon sugar and dot the top of the cake with butter.

8.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean (baking time will vary depending on the juiciness of the fruit).  Cool slightly in the pan, then release the sides and cool further until you can safely remove the bottom.

9.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a garnish of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if you like.


Of course I bake too much in the summer, and my weight-conscious family worries about the consequences of eating all those goodies. So I've been taking advantage of the fact that we serve snacks at our weekly choir rehearsals:  I bring a recipe I'm trying out for break time in rehearsal.  There's never a crumb left, even of the things I think haven't turned out absolutely the way I wanted.

We have guests this weekend, so I've got one of these in the oven now.  It smells fabulous, and I can't wait to tuck into it later this evening.  Or maybe I won't wait--I might sneak a piece warm from the oven when no one is looking.  Heck, I'm the cook.  I get to do that if I want.

ADDENDUM:  I made the cake pictured here earlier in the week with ripe pluots, and it was especially good.  Today's I made with ripe plums, and it was a little too tart.  I suggest you taste your fruit.  If it seems a bit mouth-puckering, try macerating it in some sugar (maybe with a bit of kirsch or other fruit-flavored liqueur) for a few minutes before you put it on the cake.

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