Saturday, July 28, 2012

Late Summer Plum Cake


When preparing for my chef's challenge, we were given a list of three secret ingredients: plums, collard greens or sweet onions.  Sweet onions won ( thank God!), but I wanted to prepare (just in case) by making a plum dessert.  I looked at Ina's plum cake from food network, and though it looked incredible, it was a bit too fussy for what I could do for the cook off.  I looked at Dorie' Greenspan's, and did make it as well.  However, after tasting this cake, the other variety seemed dry, and almost tasteless in comparison.  

First of all, this smelled DIVINE, when baking and after.  Better that any candle I assure you.  Next, it tasted great.  It was almost a pound cake texture.  This cake was gone in a flash.  

Now the original recipe called for unpeeled plums, and to me the skin took away from this cake.  So, I will leave it out when I make this again (and I will!).  Next, I used big, dark, purple sweet plums that were soft and ripe.  Make it.  It was still a bit runny in the middle, but we even enjoyed that!  Whipped cream and ice cream are a must here and warm is best!  

I can't believe I only got one picture, but alas!  I did.  Sorry.


adapted from: food 52


Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 medium-size fresh lemon verbena leaves or 1/2-1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I used zest)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 6 large sweet plums, peeled, pitted and quarted
  • Lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving  and vanilla ice cream(optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third. Butter a spring form pan or 9" cake pan. If using cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.  
Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Stack the lemon verbena leaves (if using), roll up tightly lengthwise, and cut them crosswise into fine ribbons. You will want 2 to 3 packed teaspoons.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, and reserved lemon verbena (or lemon zest) until well combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture just until combined. (The batter will be thick.)
Spread half of the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and top with 12 of the plum halves, cut side down. Dollop and spread the remaining batter over the plums. Arrange the remaining 12 plum halves, cut side up, over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar over the plums.
Bake until the cake is golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted near the center tests clean (assuming you haven’t hit a plum), 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan front to back a little past halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Remove sides of spring form pan or invert a flat plate over the pan. Using oven mitts if needed, grasp the plate and pan tightly together on both sides and invert the plate and pan to release the cake onto the plate. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment. Invert the cake again onto a serving plate.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, if desired.

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