Sunday, September 27, 2015

The plum cake to rule them all

Ladies and gentlemen, I have returned! I know you've all been waiting desperately. The time without my presence must have been excruciating. Do you weep at my return?

I have perfected the arts of hyperbole and sarcasm... mostly for the purpose of my own entertainment. I have also made a plum cake. 

A couple of weeks months ago, before my computer decided to poop out on me, I picked too many plums. My roommate had emailed me because the community plum tree was overloading, and I jumped at the opportunity to appear helpful while acquiring free food. Since individual plums don't really fit into my everything-in-tupperware lifestyle, I decided to make dessert. I'm not much of a baker, but since every other food blogger on the internet is, I was sure that if I googled "plum cake", I would find directions to something edible.

Turns out there exists a the plum cake... a seminal plum cake. A plum cake whose recipe has been printed at least a hundred times. The one plum cake. What is happening with these people?

As it turns out, the hype was well deserved. I've since made it six or seven times- most recently for my community potluck two weeks ago. I actually ended up missing the potluck, because a visiting friend and I went hiking and got stuck behind a moose. Hey there Sunray! Sometimes Utah is exactly what you expect it to be.

I've been struggling to write about why the cake's so good, mostly because half the internet and a lot of professional food writers have said it better. What I will add is that using slightly sour plums to start with makes a difference- the plums in the above photo baked down into pockets of sweetsour perfection. When I made it two weeks ago we used sweeter plums and the results were slightly sub-par. Not that it mattered- between the two of us it was gone in less than three days. Lessons learned: use sour plums, and share with friends.

The one true plum cake 
stolen quite directly from the New York Times, where they call it as 'Marian Burros' plum torte'

1 cup granulated  sugar (you can use less if you'd like- 3/4 cup works fine)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
big pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
~12 plums, pitted and cut in half
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. With an electric mixer- or a whisk if you're me- cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then the flour mixture, whisking as you go.

If you have a 9-inch springform pan, use it! Otherwise butter whatever dish you're going to be playing with, then pour in the batter. It will be quite thick- I always need to use a rubber spatula to even out the surface. Arrange the plums, skin side up. Use as many as will possibly fit! You don't want to see batter when you look down at the surface. Sprinkle to top with lemon juice and cinnamon.

Bake until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean, somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour. Let cool, then devour.

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