Monday, July 30, 2007

Rustic Plum Cake

I just received my new Cook’s Illustrated magazine and was inspired to try this recipe. It was funny because earlier in the day I was talking a walk and noticed a plum tree in the front yard of a house that was vacant and for sale. Well, that led to midnight gardening and I took the liberty of sneaking over there with a bag and collecting plums for this recipe! The next door neighbors came out and said hello to check and see what was going on, so I decided to play dumb and just say hello, how are you guys tonight, they said fine and I kept picking the plums, it was quite hilarious as I don’t think they knew what to do.
The plums that I had were very large regular red plums, not Italian prune plums, so I cut them in 4 pieces instead of halving them. I got rave reviews when I took this to work because the plums are a bit tart and the cake is very moist and sweet. Cheers to midnight gardening!

Rustic Plum Cake

2 Tablespoons Currant or Seedless Raspberry Jam
3 Tablespoons Brandy
1 Pound (10-12) Italian Prune Plums, halved and pitted
3/4 Cup Unbleached Flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Slivered Almonds
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 Large Egg, Plus 1 Large Yolk, room temperature
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
¼ Teaspoon Almond Extract
Powdered Sugar, for serving

Cook jam and brandy in 10 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until reduced to thick syrup, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and place plums cut-side down in syrup. Return skillet to medium heat and cook until plums shed their juices and thick syrup is again formed, about 5 minutes, shaking pan to prevent plums from sticking. Cool plums in pan, about 20 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9 inch springform pan. Process sugar and almonds in food processor until nuts are finely ground, about 1 minute. Add flour baking powder, and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand, about ten 1 second pulses. Add eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and process until smooth, about 5 seconds, scraping bowl once if needed (batter will be very thick and heavy)

Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Stir plums to coat with syrup. Arrange plum halves, skin-side down, evenly over surface of batter (pack with fruit, place over entire surface of batter and not touching pan edges). Bake until cake is golden brown and wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 40-50 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Cool in pan on wire rack until just warm or to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan and dust with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.

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