Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rustic plumb cake

Everyone knows that I make some pretty mean cakes.

A random collage of some favorites from my flickr page
But ironically, I'm not the biggest fan of sweet layer cakes with even more sweet frosting piled on.

More often than not I just want a classic, old-fashioned, no frosting, buttery type of cake. You know, the kind that reminds you of your grandmother (even though my nana's cake from childhood was a box mix cake infused with fresh orange zest...YUM!)

Bonus points if its incredibly delicious, takes minutes to throw together, requires minimal dishes, and has some kind of fruit in it.

This cake, THIS cake is my happy place. It's near perfection for me, and everything I want in a single cake.  

Just look at those crevices that form when the cake batter rises up to envelop the fruit!
And you can practically hear the sound that crust makes when tapping a spoon against it.

I want to show you guys the insides of this incredible cake, but all I have is the crappy photo below, which does it no justice. But when taking treats to work it's really hard to get a good photo of the insides, so my cell phone pic will have to do. 

Which is partly a shame, because it may not entice you to make this cake as much as I'd hope. But it's partly the perfect representation of this cake as well, because its not about the aesthetics, it's about the flavor. Sure, it's not a perfectly crafted photo with amazing lighting. But see those splotches on my plate napkin? That shows you how juicy the fruit is on the inside. And see the darker color on top of the tender cake? You can practically feel the crackly crust.

A crust, which when combining a dusting of cinnamon and spices with some sugar in the raw, not only results in an incredible texture, but a bit of warmth and comfort in each bite.

Cake batter + plums + sugar & spice = simply delicious

Will this cake with any awards on Pinterest? Unlikely. But will it satisfy your sweet and buttery tooth and leave you wanting to eat the entire cake. Absolutely.

And if my photos haven't done this cake justice, check out some others by Smitten Kitchen and Lottie + Doof. They have some interesting history nuggets about this recipe as well, which was first published in 1983 (no WONDER it reminds me of my childhood).

Buen Provecho,

Rustic Plum Cake (aka Plum Torte), adapted from Lottie + Doof (who adapted it from Marian Burros of the NY Times)

The original recipe calls for Italian plums, but after buy some duds at the farmers market (sad face), I used regular plums instead. It was glorious. Feel free to substitute other kinds of stone fruit or anything else really. (Apples? Pears? Apricots? Who knowsgo crazy!) Check out the link above to see how Lottie + Doof used raspberries in his.

The original recipe (and most variations) use 1 cup of sugar. But Lottie + Doof cut it down to 3/4 cup, which is what I used here. I found it to be perfectly sweet, so you can bump up the sugar if you prefer it sweeter.

Everyone says this cake is better on day 2. I had mine on the second day and it was delicious, but I cannot give you any information on the difference eating it fresh vs rested. You might just have to make 2 cakes and test out this theory. :)  


1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (115 grams or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
8 to 12 smallish purple Italian purple plums, halved and pitted -OR- 5 to 6 larger plums (I thickly sliced mine, but quarters would work) -OR- another fruit you'd like to try

1 to 2 TBSP sugar in the raw (or regular sugar)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp apple pie spice (or ground cinnamon), optional

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer (hand mixer will do!) until fluffy and light in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. 
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. It will be a fairly thick batter, do not fret!
  4. Spread batter into an ungreased (or lightly greased) 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then apple pie spice, then the sugar in the raw.
  5. Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center comes out free of batter, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack for a few hours before serving.
  6. Once cool, it is recommended to leave the cake at room temperature overnight (covered) as the cake is better on the second day.   


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