People always look for the familiar, especially in the things that are foreign to them; but there will be times when the unfamiliar works its way into our lives and become something we grow to love. Such is my story with plum cakes. Or this particular one, in fact. I don’t believe I have ever eaten plums in any other way than au naturel, quartered into half-moons; or dried, in the form of prunes. When I saw this recipe for plum cakes, I was skeptical. Do plums really play well in a cake? They have such a unique flavour on their own already. I was a bit nervous if we would actually like the results.
Plums are one of my grandmother’s favourite fruits, so as a child, she would always share a few slices with me whenever she had some. I’m guessing this has played a large part in why plums are one of my favourite fruits now that I’m all grown up. As I tried to come to a decision whether or not I should make this cake, I thought, ‘If plums make up majority of the cake, then it would still technically taste like plums wouldn’t it?’ So I figured, if I didn’t like the cake, at least I could still eat the plums. But really, how bad can something named Dimply Plum Cake be?
As far as effort goes, this cake was really easy. Basically, you whip up a wonderfully citrusy batter and spread it onto the pan. Then you stick a bunch of halved plums onto the batter and pop it all into the oven; allowing the batter to rise (and trust me, it may look like there’s not much batter, but boy does it rise!), and bake into a cake that holds the plums in place. It is as simple as that!
The first bite was like an epiphany. I don’t believe I have ever eaten anything like this before! I think I’m beginning to develop a love for cakes that contain chunks of fruits you can bite into (like the last Dorie Greenspan recipe I shared that contained mangoes). This cake is simply delicious. The tangy orange flavour on the cake is absolutely perfect eaten with the sweet, juicy plums resting on top. And then I am reminded this is actually a Dorie Greenspan recipe. Frankly, that’s really all one needs to know to wipe away the fears and doubts! But if that’s not enough, then all the amazing feedback from the blogosphere is more than enough encouragement. I know that’s one of the things that pushed me to finally make this.
Dimply Plum Cake
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours, pages 40 to 41 | Makes one 8-inch square cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional but good)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 packed cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower oil
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan, making sure to tap out the excess flour. Set the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom (if using).
3. In another bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition (about a minute each).
4. Turn the mixer to medium speed then beat in the oil, orange zest, and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients carefully; mixing only until they are incorporated.
6. 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 prepared pan. Smooth the top.
7. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter as you please, jiggling them just a tad to let them settle into the batter.
8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
9. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes, allowing the plums’ juices to return to the fruit. Run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.
It’s times like these I am happy I chose to be a part of the foodie community. I feel grateful for being exposed to things I am not familiar with (case in point!), and being able to make all the things I normally wouldn’t, motivated largely by all the wonderful food blogs I come across everyday (aside from my cookbooks, of course). I am excited that I get to stumble upon new things to pass on to others to adore. That’s really what it’s about, isn’t it? If all those food blogs I visited hadn’t touched me in such a way that I was inspired to start my own, then I probably wouldn’t have pursued my interest in food. In effect, I wouldn’t have come across Dorie Greenspan, or this cake; which means I wouldn’t have discovered something new to love. The best part about being part of the food blogging world has constantly been about unearthing and sharing new things to love.
Well, I hope you’re in the mood to discover something new to love, because you sure as heck can start with this cake!