When you have too many ripening plums on hand, a classic plum cake is the solution. This recipe is tried-and-true, and you can make it with regular flour or go gluten-free, because the plums outshine the dough.
You’ll get plums surrounded by a dense cake that soaks up the sweet plum juices. There’s little need for sugar or fat, just enough to bring out the natural flavors.
You’re cutting plums in half and sticking them in the dough- it’s that simple- and their skins introduce a sour taste that oddly makes the cake taste sweeter- another reason why we cut back on the classic amount of sugar called for.
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour for you wheat-eaters; for non-wheat-eaters, you can substitute with one or more non-wheat flour because this recipe is forgiving: we use a mix of almond meal, coconut, chick pea
2 tsp baking powder- we use the special baking powder for altitude baking
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
5 T unsalted fake butter, at room temperature
1/3 C (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 C neutral-flavored oil
1 star anise, coarsely ground
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 plums cut in half
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and center a rack in the oven. You’re going to flip this over after it cools so you need to prep for that by buttering the pan then dusting the inside with flour and tapping out the excess. The recipe called for an 8-inch square baking pan, and we had a small Pyrex pan. There wasn’t quite enough dough to fill it, but it worked, so it’s your call.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until they are well-blended (30 seconds at most).
3. In another bowl, whisk the butter with a fork until it’s soft and creamy (~1 minute), then add the sugar (~1 minute) and whisk that into the butter. Next, add the eggs one at a time, and beat for about 20 seconds after each egg goes in. Add the the oil, star anise and vanilla, beat to blend, then add the dry ingredients, mixing only until everything is uniform, but careful, not for too long, just so it’s blended.
4. Pour the the batter into the pan; it’ll be rather dense, so you’ll have to schmush it around and smooth it out a bit. Put the plums cut side up in the batter, squishing them down a bit. This will displace some of the batter but that’s okay- remember, we want the juice to permeate the batter.
5. Bake for 40 minutes but check it at 30. The top should be a toasted brown color with the edges at the pan slightly darker. You’ll know it’s done when you insert a small sharp knife and it comes out clean- the classic test. Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board or trivet to cool and allow the juices to settle into the cake. Lastly, run a knife around the sides of the pan to make sure nothing’s sticking and turn the cake over. You can cover with foil and if it lasts a couple of days, you’ll find the juice from the plums will infuse the cake.
Let us know how yours turned out: we’d love to hear from you if you have questions, substitutions or comments.
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