By Julia Westhoff
Dorie Greenspan would not be proud. I managed to turn her beautiful plum cake into a homely concoction, totally unworthy of her beautiful cookbooks.
I’d always wanted to make plum cake. This sweet gem of a cake is perfect for snacking, breakfasting, or as a dessert. And in fact, it was delicious. But the rows of perfect halved plums that make up Dorie’s cake were nowhere to be found on my version. Turns out it’s pretty darn difficult to beautiful half and pit a juicy plum! Luckily, no one in my family seemed to mind, and we ravaged it in just a day.
I highly suggest making this cake now, while plums are so abundant and delicious. There is a wonderful plum lady at the Overland Park Farmer’s Market who has 4 or 5 varieties to choose from. And make sure to refer to this ugly picture – it will only make you feel better about how pretty yours turns out :).
Recipe’s after the jump
Dorie Greenspan’s Dimply Plum Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
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 safflower
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°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 the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom together.
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.
Bake for about 30 to 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.
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.