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Dessert Chronicles: Call The Plummer

Both my daughters are home from college. (Well, one has graduated, so she’s not home from college, she’s just home, for a measly two weeks before she goes to New York to start her Life.) One of the pleasures of having my girls here is that it gives me an excuse to make all kinds of desserts, which I never do when my nest is only occupied by Tom and myself.

For this brief time of sharing sweet enthusiasm with my daughters, I look at every day as an opportunity to try all those recipes that otherwise lie low in the dustiest corner of my office. And any trip o the farmer’s market triggers a flip thru my mental file of sugary possibilities.

So when I eyeballed all those plums, I flashed on a tart recipe I’d been obsessing over for months. I bought way too many plums, dragged them home and discovered I had no tart pan. (My crabby kitchen is under-equipped to deal with any unusual spurts of cooking energy.) So I adjusted; I made a plum cake instead.

I suggest you do NOT wait for months to make this. Plum season will pass, and maybe your nest will empty like mine does in September, and you will have missed the moment and face a lifetime of regret. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a tad, but anyway, this cake is really tasty, so just make the sucker, regardless of the status of your nest. (And be sure to serve it with a little whipped cream.)

I am now going to buy a tart pan.

Summer Plum Cake

8 medium plums
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra for the pan
¾ cup plus two tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Whipped cream for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Generously butter a 9-inch square cake pan. Cut the plums into 1/2-inch slices and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar (on medium speed) until they are well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, combining well, then add half the milk. Mix well, then add the remaining flour mixture, combine well, then add the remaining milk and mix. Pur the batter into the prepared cake pan.

4. Arrange the plum slices on top of the batter in a single layer. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the plums. Bake the cake until it is light golden in color and springy to the touch, about 55 minutes. Allow to cool for ten minutes or so before serving with whipped cream.

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