There were far too many choices for baking with plums in the past week or two. First, @Dan_Lepard tweeted what appeared to be his first recipe in the Guardian, a cobnut and plum tart. Then @Zebbakes sent around a link to a lovely recipe for stone fruit yogurt cake with plums (based on one of Dan’s) in her blog. The next day, Nigel Slater’s single-crust plum pie appeared in the Observer Food Monthly. Meanwhile I had bought a kilo of the things at the Cambridge market. Where to begin?
I couldn’t decide, and was busy making other things, so the plums sat in the fridge until today, when I remembered a favorite recipe of my father’s that he had emailed me once, and that I had never made. In the end, guilt and family loyalty won, but I think both were worth it, and it really was easy. Here’s his recipe, which he adapted from one in the NY Times; I’ve added in a few metric equivalents.
1 cup (200 g) sugar, maybe a little less
1/2 cup (60 g) sweet butter (ordinary salted butter will do)
1 cup (110 g) unbleached (plain) flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla (I’ve been using vanilla bean paste for everything these days, really good stuff)
~24 halves pitted purple plums (mine were bigger than Italian prune plums, so I used fewer)
topping: sugar, lemon juice (or brandy), cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
1. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the flour, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and eggs, and beat well.
2. Spoon the batter into a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form, or into a 10 inch (25 cm) pan with a disc of parchment inide. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.
3. Bake for one hour. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (or double cream or custard if you live in the UK!).
4. To serve frozen tortes, defrost and reheat briefly at 300°F (150°C).
Yield: 8 servings
This very elementary recipe also works well with other fruits, including fresh raspberries. The fruit sinks into the batter during the baking process.