Plum Cake...mmm, plum cake...how I love plum cake season !
Plum cake is another one of those things that I grew up eating, courtesy of my good German heritage. There would come a time in the fall when you'd start to see the small plums called Italian or prune plums - little dark purple oblong jewels, smaller than standard plums, firm and juicy sweet-tart. As soon as those little babies showed up, you knew it was high time to get your butt over to Oma (my great-grandmother)'s house - for there was bound to be plum kuchen.
Oma's kuchen was a thing of beauty. Made in a good-sized baking pan, it had a lovely golden base with neat rows of plums marching down the length of it. Not exactly cakey or bready or pie-crusty, but somehow a delicious combination of all three - with lots of plummy goodness in each square. Oma would offer you a cup of tea or coffee, and you'd sit there with your cake, chatting with one of the most special people on earth - who somehow always knew just the right thing to say to you - and you would think that you were the luckiest person in the world. I never did find out the secret of the plum cake, though...I wish I had asked, about that and so many other things.
|Four generations of German awesomeness...that's me in the middle, Oma on the right. |
Sadly, there is no plum cake in front of me !
Until I found this cake.
Pflaumekuchen (German Plum Cake)
adapted from the Boston Globe
Butter (for the pan)1⅓ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
12 prune plums (or 8 regular plums), halved, pitted then sliced about ½ inch thick.
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
½ cup apricot preserves
Sweetened whipped cream (optional)
Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable base.
In a bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. In another bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla with an electric mixer until blended. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and combine until all the flour is incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the tart pan (it will be crumbly) and with lightly floured fingers press evenly onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Arrange the plums, cut sides up, in circles on top.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Leave the oven on to toast the almonds (below), and set the tart on a wire rack.
In a small baking dish, toast the almonds, turning often, for 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Keep an eye on them – they can burn quickly !
Serve with whipped cream (optional)