I HATE plum cakes. Growing up as a Catholic means that I was brought up on the ritual of family baking during christmas, churning out masses and masses of cake. The house would fill with the baking aroma for days, starting with parents soaking jars and jars of fruits in rum, dad cracking dozens of eggs into a pail, mum caramelising the sugar over the hot stove in Delhi winters, and the best part – having the house to ourselves when the parents were away at the bakery -to come back hours later with endless kilos of plum cakes. Maybe it’s that I hated was having to go to tens of neighbours houses with plates of plum cakes. Or maybe its that the typical christmas cakes with their spicey-sour-fruityness are not my thing – atleast on anyday other than the day they were baked. As plum cakes go, I attest that my mums were the very best. It’s that plums cakes are just not my thing.
It all started with the Dimply plum cake from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours via Smitten Kitchen. Dorie’s cake itself is to die for. But I did find the plums on top to be – well pretty.. but disappointing.. Maybe it’s that the plums we get here in India are not the right ones or maybe it’s that I just imagined it to taste different – but to be honest, they just didn’t really do anything for me.
So this time round, I kept the cake base but played with the plums a bit. I wanted to intensify the flavour and get that lush, juicy, zingy thing going with the plums. So voila! I roasted them. (You know obsession with roasting everything – fruits, vegetables, chicken, meat, fish.) Imagine – fresh plums, macerated in lemon juice, peel and cinnamon and roasted till they are fragrant, soft and juicy. Just the aroma is enough to make you faint!!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Scant ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoons vanilla essence (or one bean)
- half kg plums, stoned and cut in 8 pieces
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 4-6 tablespoons of sugar (depending on the sweetness of your plums)
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- half teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 lemon, zested
- ⅓ flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 175°F. Grease the regular 9" baking tin, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and keep aside
- Combine well flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- To roast the plums, combine the ingredients and bake in the oven till soft and fragrant. Remove and spoon out the juices.
- Beat the 5 tablespoons of butter until it’s soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, after which you add one egg at a time beating after each addition, till all the eggs are in. Next, beat in the oil, zest and vanilla to get a smooth creamy batter.
- Mix in the dry ingredients till just mixed. Pour the batter into a pan.
- Spread with the roasted plums, saving the juices to serve with the cake. (From experience I can tell you it's tough to not take this directly to your mouth). Bake for about 20 minutes.
- To make the topping, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, lemon zest and orange juice and add the flaked almonds. Pour the mix over the cake and bake for another 15 - 20 minutes till done and a tester inserted comes out clean..