This cake is such a winner, our reader Pam made it twice last week!
Pam first commented: “So good! And really easy to make. I love that it’s not super sweet.” Then she was back saying: “So good I’m making another today. Yes, So good.” Since Pam’s timing is perfect, and since Labor Day weekend is for a day of rest from our labors in the kitchen and otherwise, we thought this recipe was well worth repeating along with some fun facts about its key ingredient: The plum.
It may surprise you to know that Figs actually do grow on the East End of Long Island
And when they are briefly in season they are a treat we look forward to. But move fast or you’ll miss them. This is exactly what happened when Andrew went to bake David Tanis’ recipe for Fig and Almond Cake. Fortunately, Mr. Tanis of The New York Times owed as how you can substitute plums for the figs. And at our Farmstand, the dark blue Italian plums, pictured at left, looked juicy and beautiful. And when he finished, the rustic Cake, which he swears is a snap to bake, looked as good as the Fig version he’d made the summer before.
Before we get to the recipe, how about a little Plum Primer.
Plums are related to peaches, nectarines, and surprisingly, to almonds as well. There are three key varieties. Color is actually one of the main differences between Plums. They range from yellow to red to purple. The second is their level of sweetness. And that’s what determines how they’re used. In our part of the country, we’ve been seeing plums since June. First up are European plums. These are best for eating fresh off the tree and for canning. Oval in shape and they’re often called Prunes because they can be dried. A subspecies is the Damson plum, so tart they are used in cooking to make jams and jellies. The second variety is the Japanese plum. These are in a profusion of colors from yellow to dark reddish-purple. Larger and firmer than European plums, they have a heart shape. Japanese plums are versatile. They can be eaten fresh, cooked, canned, and preserved. But the most versatile of all plums are the Italian plums used in this recipe.
Italian plums, often called prune plums, come by their name honestly.
First grown in the Mediterranean coastal regions of Italy, they are the last of the season’s plums. They’re quite tiny, oval and a dark blue color. Their high fruit sugar content makes them appetizing to eat fresh but they are also ideal for home canning, freezing, and drying for the same reason. So grab some this weekend and put together this very easy-to-make cake. You first make a very simple almond batter, pit and halve the plums and place them on top of the batter. That’s it! Put it in the tart pan in the oven and what emerges is a rustic cake that just needs a little whipped cream and it’s ready to serve. Here is the recipe:
Italian Plum and Almond Cake
Luscious plums and a great almond cake come together to make a wonderful flavor experience with every bite.
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
- 1 cup natural raw almonds (not blanched)
- ¼ cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 12 to 14 ripe Italian plums
- Step 1 Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan
- Step 2 set aside. Put almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt
- Step 3 pulse to combine.
- Step 4 In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey, and almond extract. Add almond mixture and beat for a minute until batter is just mixed. Pour batter into pan.
- Step 5 Cut each plum in half. Arrange plum halves cut-side up over the batter. Sprinkle plums with sugar and bake for 30 minutes, until golden outside and dry at the center when probed with a cake tester. Cool before serving.