|Does this look strangely unplummy? The plums are under there. They just sink a little.|
This is a scrubby little diseased tree out front that has, in the 5 years we've lived here, only ever borne masses of turd-like fungus clumps and, occasionally, a single sad plum.
|Where are all the cat poops? Oh, don't worry. There are still plenty.|
Plum Cake Redux
(adapted from the Original Plum Torte recipe published in the New York Times some time in the late 17th century)
The original NYT recipe calls for neither vanilla nor almond extract, but it asks you to sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon over the cake before baking, which I did for years, until I discovered that I wasn’t that crazy about the cinnamon. Did you make it in 2008, when I first ran it? Make it again with me, and swap in a little bit of spelt. Just a liiiiitttle of the whole-grain action. It is even better this way, I swear. Note: this is Ben's favorite cake of all the cakes.
1 stick butter (I use salted), softened
¾ cup sugar (plus 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
12 plums (more or less), halved and pitted
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)
Heat the oven to 350.
Use an electric mixer (if you have one) to cream together the butter and sugar—or do this all by hand, which is fine. Now add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, and add the extracts too. Beat in the flours, which you’ve either sifted or whisked together with the baking powder and salt, and mix until the batter is well combined.
Now scrape the very stiff batter into your pan: I use a spring form pan that seems to be 9 ½ inches across, but you could butter and flour a regular cake pan and use that, need be. Use a rubber spatula to even it out; it will make a very shallow layer, and that’s fine.
Arrange the plum halves skin-side-up in a fancy concentric pattern around the cake. Or else willy-nilly, if you prefer. You will be tempted to put the cut side up because it looks prettier that way—but don’t. You want all that lovely plum flesh to bake its juicy way right into your cake. Now sprinkle the cake with a teaspoon of sugar and pop it in the oven to bake until it looks nice and brown and doesn’t jiggle anywhere when you, uh, jiggle it—the recipe says an hour, but mine is always done after 40 or 45 minutes; if your pan is smaller (and your batter therefore deeper) it may take a bit longer.
Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.