If this blog were any indication, seasonality would seem to have passed me by.
There’s been no I-need-to-come-up-with-something-new-to-make-with-my-endless-supply-of-CSA-zucchini-and-kale dilemma.
No there-are-so-many-amazing-fruits-and-vegetables-in-the-farmers-market-that-I-bought-several-flats-worth-that-will-go-bad-if-I-don’t-make-this-crumble-tart-jam-cake-right-now panic.
Instead, I visit my local farmers market like clockwork every Monday. I fill my bag. And then I eat everything out of hand or simply prepared.
Cherries? If they make it home from the market, I can barely wash them before a dozen pits are piled in a bowl.
Blueberries? Straight into my morning yogurt.
Peaches? Eaten dripping down my chin and trickling to my elbow over a sink that, more often than not, has a few dishes to catch any remaining juice.
Heirloom tomatoes? They’ve only just started appearing around here but the first few I’ve snagged have been sliced and topped with fresh mozzarella, a sprig of basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Sure, a fleeting garlic scape or two made an appearance in June, but most of my baking and cooking over the Summer months has revolved around my pantry. It started innocently enough. There was the pomegranate syrup that jumped from tomato tarte tatin to carrots. Then the pistachios that flitted across a salad and landed in biscotti. Now I’ve grabbed the rose water from the biscotti and am adding it to my first truly summer dessert of the season.
Enough chatting and let’s get on with it. I give you plum cake!
Let’s start with the plums. They’re the little ones sold by the pint. You can fit three comfortably in your hand, maybe four. (These are not the nearly apple-sized monsters you’ll find in the grocery stores!) The ones I’ve been using reveal bright red flesh under their dark purple, nearly black, skin.
Now, the batter. It uses brown sugar instead of white, deepening the cake’s sweetness. I add a little bit of my current pantry obsession – rose water – and lime zest, the batter speckled with tiny green flakes. Overlook the fact that the original recipe calls for nearly 10 minutes in a stand mixer – I suspect that a few minutes with a whisk and a strong arm will bake up just fine.
Scoop the batter into the pan, arrange the plums on top, and pop it into the oven where the batter puffs and the plums sink. No wonder Dorie Greenspan calls it Dimply Plum Cake. Seriously, how can you not love a cake that sounds like a smile?
As you’d expect, Dorie doesn’t disappoint.
Cut a slice, and you can see how the juices that have pooled into the impressions left by the plum pits continue to seep into the cake below. Take a bite and your teeth cut smoothly through the plum skin that has melted into the golden dense cake. The slightly tart plums and specks of lime mingle with the sweet brown sugar cake and hint of rose, lingering in your mouth after nothing but crumbs remain on your plate.
If you can, save a square or two for breakfast the next day.
One more note before we get to the recipe. Since it’s the first Wednesday of August (August!), drop by the Jerusalem Post to read my next Come to the Table column. This time we’re talking about Panama and the ceviche recipe that a chef gave me on my trip there a few years back.
Dimply plum cake with lime and rose
This recipe is an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan‘s Dimply Plum Cake that I discovered via Deb at Smitten Kitchen. I changed up the flavoring a bit, using lime zest and rose water. Feel free to substitute your favorite stone fruit (maybe even berries) and citrus zest. The cake is dense an a bit crumbly – Deb is spot on when she likens its texture to a coffee cake. You can keep the cake on the counter for 2 days, tightly wrapped, but it’s amazing a few minutes out of the oven when the plum juices are still pooling. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a whisk and some muscle and everything should turn out great. Don’t try to replace the butter with margarine as the cake doesn’t turn out as nicely.
Makes 16 small servings.
- 5 T unsalted butter – make sure to bring to room temperature
- 3/4 C brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 C flavorless oil (I used canola)
- 1 lime for zest
- 1 1/2 t rose water (I use Cortas brand)
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 2 t baking powder
- 1/4 t salt
- 8 very small plums (3 or 4 should fit comfortably in your hand; if you want to be exact, they should just shy of 2 inches in diameter)
Prep. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8×8 square pan.
Mix. Using a stand mixer, beat the room temperature butter until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition for another minute. So, that’s 8 minutes total so far. Add the oil, lime zest, and rose water and beat until smooth and creamy – “satiny” as Deb describes.
Add. You’re supposed to first whisk together the dry ingredients, but I cheat. Here’s how: Add flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl. Don’t mix it into the wet ingredients yet. Use a spoon to gently mix together just the dry ingredients so that there are no big lumps of baking powder in one spot and a pile of salt in another. Then turn the mixer back on until the dry ingredients are just incorporated with the wet.
Cut. Slice the plums in half – I used Deb’s tip of slicing on either side of the pit so you don’t have to twist the halves to get the pit out. And, as a special bonus, you get a leftover slivers of plum to snack on while baking.
Arrange. Use a spatula to help pour the batter into the pan. Using an offset spatula, or, if you don’t have one, a spoon and a steady hand, spread and even out the batter. Arrange the plums, flesh side up in a 4X4 matrix. Gently push them down into the batter.
Bake. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes until the cake puffs up and turns golden. When you stick a toothpick in, it’s OK for a few crumbs to cling, as long as the batter is not still liquidy.
Cool. Let cool for at least 15 minutes and then run a knife around the edges to help remove the cake from the pan.