Mom’s Garden: Plum Cake

whole cakeThis is a good cake for the upcoming long holiday weekend. Picnics, barbecues and a fuss-free dessert that can be tossed in a plastic container, bump around the trunk a bit, and still be in good shape.

We’re still making our way through the bushels of plums from Mom’s two trees. There will be more plumesque, plumish, plumy recipes to come…

So… in working through this recipe I did something you should never do–I plunked some ingredients in a bowl–the amounts were total guesswork–and prayed for cake. I am very lucky I didn’t pull a purple brick out of the oven.

The first time I had plum cake/pudding was in Sydney when Ken and I were visiting his sister Katharine and her husband Peter. There was a pot luck lunch with various family members and Peter’s mother Lynne brought a delicious plum cake. It was so simple, just golden buttery cake and canned plums.

I don’t know why I used maple syrup except that sometimes I get a little tired of granulated sugar. Maple syrup is a bit more nutritious, etc. etc. Overall this isn’t a super sweet cake. You can always smother it with ice cream should you feel the need… for speed.

Plum Cake (4 big ol’ worry about it tomorrow servings / 6 polite servings)

1 lb. plums (or any fruit you like–cherries, nectarines, peaches, apples*)
2 Tbsps. (30ml) pure maple syrup
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger–I use a big pinch of ginger because I like the spicy kick

For the batter:

1 stick (1/2 cup or 113g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (240ml) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5ml) baking powder
1/4 (1.25ml) teaspoon salt
3 Tbsps. (45ml) pure maple syrup
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.

Butter an 8-inch round or square pan.

Add the fruit, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to a pan and simmer over medium heat until the fruit is beginning to soften. You don’t want things too mushy. Most stone fruits will cook in about the same time, about 5-7 minutes, but if you’re using apples it might take a bit longer. If using multiple fruits with apples, cook the apples for 5 minutes then add the other fruit and cook for another 5 or so. Set aside.

To make the batter… Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat the softened butter until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Add the eggs, beating well. Add the flour and mix until no streaks of flour remain, but don’t over-beat or the cake will be tough.

Add half the fruit and liquid to the bottom of the buttered pan. Top with the batter and use a knife or spatula to spread it evenly over the fruit. It will be thick, do your best. Top with the remaining fruit and liquid.first layer


toppedBake for about 30 minutes until the bits of cake popping out between the fruit are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

If the cake has been made ahead and refrigerated, let it come up to room temperature or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up before serving.