Thursday, 28 July 2011

plum cake

I am thoroughly enjoying the plums, which when eaten fresh off the tree are wonderfully sweet. At the optimum ripeness the stone falls out once the plum is cut. The raw flesh is a soft green, and the skin is purpley black, with a dusty bloom. The skin lends a light bitterness, which is a welcome contrast  to the sweet pulpy flesh. I like to cook the plums for just a minute, adding a few spoonfuls of water and the same amount of sugar. Demerera.  This makes a beautiful ruby red syrup, and, lightly poached, the plums keep their shape. The bitter tang of the skin is slightly more pronounced in the cooking, balanced nicely with the sweetness of the syrup.

The winner of the plum recipes so far has been this cake. The plums sit on top of the mixture, which is flavoured with lemon zest backed by the lightest addition of mixed spice. I wanted to take a picture of the whole cake, but before I had a chance the eating had begun. It seems it's an all times of day cake. It certainly goes very well with a cup of tea, and coffee and, apparently, works very well as a follow-on course for a full breakfast.

I cut the plums into quarters, and I don't worry which way up they are. Reckless, I know. So the top of the cake looks a bit random, but it works. Also I won't give a fixed weight of plums, expect to use at least half a pound of plums per cake, you may prefer more. Enjoy yourself.

Butter an 9"/23cm cake tin with a removable base
185g butter or marg
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp of mixed spice (or cinnamon if you don't have the mixed stuff)
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3 tbsp milk
1/2 lb plums
3 tbsp demerera sugar
set oven to 180C
cut your plums in half and remove the stones, then cut into quarters
mix flours together with spices and stir or sift - in a separate bowl
beat the butter, rind and sugar together (easier if fat is not straight out of the fridge) - use an electric mixer or a stick whisk if you've got it - until light and fluffy
beat in the eggs one at a time, until combined
add half the sifted flour and a tablespoonful of milk and stir to combine
repeat with the rest of the flour and stir until completely combined
spread the mixture into the tin, smoothing until it's level
scatter the quartered plums over the cake mixture until you can see nothing but plums
sprinkle the demerera sugar over the top, as evenly as possible

bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean

allow the cake to cool a bit before removing from tin

I prefer this cake cold, but it goes well with ice cream or cream when warm

If you can keep this cake a couple of days I think it improves, but I've only evidence of this from tiny residual slices.

you can use tinned fruit, but it will be wetter and less sharp, so reduce the milk and demerera

subsitute almond flour for the plain flour, and use gluten free s.r. flour to make this cake gluten free - it will need an extra 1/2 tsp of baking powder, and will be a bit more crumbly, but very very tasty

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