Super Moist Plum Cake
September means back to school, which for me signifies a return to my grand diplome course. No, I didn’t forget about it, but truth be told, I’ve been hung up on the cake lesson. Who in their right mind, without a birthday to commemorate, wants to bake something like this on a hot summer day?
The September issue of Everyday Food with its recipe for a plum cake, however, got me in the mood. There is just something about plum cake that seems to have a hold on people’s psyche. Just the words sound anachronistic to my ears, like an antique baking tradition in which brunettes with twin braids in long, calico dresses carry hot baked goods to the prarie neighbors after picking the last of the season’s plums. Or something.
Whatever the connotations, there is an undeniable bit of cozy magic at work. Because everyone I mentioned this to got a dreamy, far-off look in their eye, remembering plum cakes of days gone by. Meanwhile, I had never had one in my life. Plum tarts — sure — but not a cake. And even still, there was something so dear about just the idea of it, like a treat Mama Bear would pull out of the oven to serve with a tiny china cup filled with weak, milky tea.
I served it instead to the man I’m going to marry in 52 short days, dusted with powdered sugar, and chased with a small glass of whiskey (it had been a rough day). The reviews were raves, and the wedding’s still on.
from Everyday Food
I’m posting the recipe as it was originally published in the magazine, but here are the modifications I made: I subbed in whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the all-purpose; I forgot to buy a lemon at the store, so I missed out on the whole “lemony” party; I didn’t have sour cream so I used creme fraiche instead. One last point: the cake itself is so delicious, I think it would make an excellent backdrop for the seasonal fruits coming down the bend, like apples and pears.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sour cream
3 plums, halved, pitted, and cut into eights
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 375. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter ans sugars until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated; beat in vanilla and lemon zest. Beat in 1/2 the flour mixtures, then sour cream. Add remaining flour mixture; mix until just combined.
Spread batter into pan and smooth top with a knife. In a bowl, toss plums with 2 tablespoons flour and arrange over batter.
Bake until cake is golden, about 30 minutes; loosely tent with foil and bake until cake pulls away from side of pan and a cake tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes more (Note: I found the cake only needed an additional 10-20 minutes). Let cake cool completely in pan. Run knife around cake edge and remove cake from pan. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.