This is the cake I wanted to make back in July, when I picked up those gorgeous tiny blush colored plums swirled with a bit of green. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t have this recipe yet. And the cake I had initially set out to make was from a recipe of my mom’s, which she couldn’t find. So instead I went ahead with this upside down cake which turned out to be a definite keeper.
Then, I found this recipe shortly thereafter. This is the cake that was in my oven the other day. It was initially the picture in A Platter of Figs that caught my eye. The cake was topped with Italian plums, those small, oblong shaped fruits that signal the end of summer. It looked like the cake I remembered my mom making. Well, except better. (Can I say that? Sorry!) You see, I don’t actually remember liking that cake very much. I liked the way the fruit got all soft and how it soaked into the cakey bits around it. But the cake itself? Not my favorite. Plus, these Italian plums are also called prune plums, and that alone can be a tough sell on a kid.
Once I scanned through the recipe though, I knew I had to make this as soon as these plums hit the market. I saw locally grown ones first at the grocery store where I snatched up a couple of pounds. Then this past week they showed up at the farmer’s market, so I may be buying more this week. But really, it was the almonds that got me. I. love. almonds. Especially in baked goods. I can eat marzipan plain out of the can. I try not to do that too often.
So at the end of the day (or hour, really. This doesn’t take too long to put together), you end up with a cake that has the soft baked fruit that I loved as a kid. You have the
soggy mushy ugh, there seem to be no appetizing words to describe the way the cake gets around the fruit, but its good. But you also have the crisp edges where the cake hit the side of the pan and caramelized the sugar. Plus, since you’re grinding the almonds yourself, you get the texture of some larger bits throughout. This cake doesn’t keep well, so serve it as soon as it has cooled.
To friends or just to yourself.
I won’t judge.
italian plum cake
(adapted from David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs)
1 cup unblanched, whole almonds
¾ cup sugar, divided
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ginger
pinch of nutmeg
½ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
12-14 Italian plums, pitted and sliced in half
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.
2. Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade along with ½ cup of the sugar. Process until almonds are finely ground. Add flour, salt and spices and pulse a few more times to combine. Transfer to a medium bowl.
3. In a measuring cup, combine milk with eggs, almond extract and melted butter, whisk to combine. Add liquids to dry ingredients and stir together until just combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place plum halves over the top in roughly concentric circles so they are just about touching. You may have one or two halves left over. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until top is golden and fruit is soft. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then use a paring knife alongside the edges of pan to loosen. Remove sides and cool completely on a rack.This cake is best eaten the day it is made. If you have some left over, it will keep at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 days.