I love this cake. I think of it as a dessert for a minor event, like when a couple of girlfriends come over for dinner or I’m celebrating an insignificant birthday, say, turning forty-three. (Okay, fine, so that happened a while ago.)
This recipe is easy and vey forgiving. I am a crabby cook, which is to say that after preparing a couple of courses I am often in a high state of irritability when faced with creating a third, as in dessert.
Once, when making this cake in a fit of impatience, I threw all the wet ingredients in a food processor, even the milk, which actually requires a more gentle, gradual entry. After I hurled in the flour mixture, the batter looked like something you use to make sidewalks but it all turned out beautifully.
I made this one with plums (which I bought way too many of at the Farmer’s Market) but you can use other fruit—peaches, pears, whatever. And if you have any patience left (I didn’t), make some whipped cream to go with it.
Girlfriend’s Plum Cake
8 Tbls. (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup plus one Tbls. granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup whole milk
1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional), see *note
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Generously butter an 8 or 9-inch square pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. Using a hand-held mixer, beat until ingredients are well-combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until well mixed. Stir in the vanilla.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well, then add half the milk and mix till combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix briefly, then add the remaining milk and mix to combine. Don’t overbeat. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
4. Cut and thinly slice the plums and, in the bowl you used for the flour, combine them with the lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the cinnamon. Arrange the fruit on top of the batter in the pan. Sprinkle with the pine nuts if using.
5. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow it to cool for a bit, then serve with whipped cream if desired.
*Note: to roast pine nuts, place them in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently for about five minutes, or until they are golden and fragrant. Be careful, they burn easily.