Plum Cake

This last weekend Tygh and I went to our college reunion.  While my friends from college and I make a concerted effort to do something yearly, either just as ladies or with all the families in tow, there's something about going back to your college stomping grounds that invokes the most poignant nostalgia.

On Friday morning, we dropped our two littles off at my mom's (bless you, Mama) and drove the few hours east to meet our besties.  The weekend started off well with wine-tasting and taco trucks and only got better from there (hard to imagine, I know).  After nearly 18 years of knowing these men and women, I love how we slide right into form when we all get together.  It's easy and fun and filled with laughter and catching up.  We may not see each other for months, or even years at a time, but, like all great friends, we don't even skip a beat. The only real difference is that we are older and have a lot of kids, so our "late" bedtimes this weekend were something akin to what pre-funk time used to be. 

By the end of the weekend, we were all plotting our next getaway and how we will all try to retire to our college town together.  I adore these people.

While we all bought or brought stuff to stock up the kitchens of our VRBOs, one of the ladies brought fresh Italian plums from her tree - it IS the end of plum season and she had a plethora.  We ate a bunch during the weekend (they were sooooo good), but there were a few super ripe ones left over come Sunday morning.  And - in case anyone from the house was wondering - I stole them AAAAAAAALL!  I've been craving plum cake and couldn't resist - fairness be damned.  

There are many types of plum cake.  I have a soft spot for the German yeasted varieties, but sometimes you don't want to wait for yeast - you want a cake you can do quickly.  The recipe below, from Dorie Greenspan, fills this requirement and takes it one step further - filling your house with the most lovely scent of cardamom and lemon zest. 

We got home Sunday afternoon, just in time to watch the Seahawks roast San Francisco, and whip together some plum cake.  I'd like to end this post here, but I feel compelled to tell you that reality set in soon after as, come early early Monday morning, June woke up with the stomach flu, and you can imagine what our night was like after that; in retrospect, it was a lot like college used to be. 

Dorie Greenspan's Plum Cake

I add a little cinnamon to this recipe because, well, shit, it's fall. But you don't have to! It's divine either way.  Also, I forgot to do it this time, but upon taking my first bite remembered that I usually try to pack in more plums than the recipe calls for - I tend to like it on the fruitier end.  Again, either way, you won't be disappointed.

1 1/2 cups all purpose four

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 tsp cinnamon  

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup canola oil

Grated zest of one lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

8 plums, halved and pitted (I used Italian plums !)


Oven 350F. Grease an 8x8 baking dish or a glass pie plate and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, ground cardamom and cinnamon (if using).

In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or with hand-held beaters, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the oil, lemon zest and vanilla. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Pour the batter in the prepared dish, smoothing the top and arranging the plums on top, cut side up (as pictured) or down, if you want.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve toute seule or with some lightly sweetened whipped cream. 

Recipe via Wednesday Chef