In my front yard, off to the side, there is a lovely little plum tree. Where our house stands now, there used to be an orchard. Our landlady lives behind us in a new house and we live in the older house that she grew up in. The yard was filled with fruit trees. Only the plum tree and one apricot tree remain. The soil in our garden is exceptional. I think it’s due to the fact that it was an orchard and probably fertilized often. I didn’t even notice that it was a plum tree, or that its branches were brimming with fruit until my husband came inside with two shopping bags full of the tiny, juicy, still-warm-from-the-sun plums. My landlords are very generous with the plums. And they are the most delicious plums I’ve ever had. Dimply Plum Cake was in order. It had caught my eye in Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. It’s a wonderful book and this recipe is one of its most wonderful additions.
This tasty cake pairs plums with a dash of cardamom.
Cardamom has made its way to the top of my list of favorite spices. It perfectly complimented the tartness of the plums.
The recipe calls for a minuscule “scant 1/4 tsp”. But it is just the right amount.
Brown sugar also plays a big part in the flavor and texture of this cake.
The cake is very moist. It uses both butter and oil. (I used canola.) Dorie says that after you add the oil to the butter, sugar, and eggs, the mixture will look “satiny.” It surely did.
The dry ingredients are whisked together and mixed in.
The batter is finger lickin’ good.
My plums were small, so I used the 8 called for in the recipe.
I was able to fit 4 across and 4 down.
I’m still getting used to the (old) electric oven in my kitchen….the top got brown before the cake was baked through. I ended up covering the pan with foil and reducing the 350 degree temperature to 325 degrees and baking the cake for a total of 45 minutes.
I loved the way the plums got nice and juicy on top in the oven.
This recipe is in the Breakfast section of the book, but I think you could eat this anytime. Day or night.
I’m not lying–this is probably my favorite recipe yet. I LOVED IT. And it was even better the second day.
Dorie also suggests that peaches, nectarines, or cherries can be used in place of the plums. Also, the recipe calls for orange zest, which I didn’t have. I substituted a little lemon oil instead. Dories says to experiment with lime, lemon, and even grapefruit zest, as well as different spices or herbs in place of the cardamom.
This is going on our family’s list of favorite recipes.
Dimply Plum Cake
from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or sunflower
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and put the pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom, if you’re using it.
Working with a mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it’s soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a minute after each egg goes in. Still working on medium speed, beat in the oil, zest and vanilla—the batter will look smooth and creamy, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter—I usually make four rows of four plum halves each—jiggling the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes—during which time the plums’ juices will seep back into the cake—then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.
Storing: You can wrap the cake and keep it at room temperature for up to 2 days, during which time it will get softer and moister.