12 September 2015

A September Cake with Fresh Prune Plums

This past week I made the annual discovery that never ceases to excite me: the first of the prune plums are in! Always available only briefly sometime around late August or September, these plums are a hallmark of the season. I love the pleasant tart flavor, how easily the fruit separates from the stone, and the gorgeous red color they yield upon baking. And beyond baking, I think they're also my favorite plums to eat in hand, as they aren't very watery and thus can be eaten relatively daintily and respectably--no worry of juices running all over the place!

 At first glance, I thought these were Italian prune plums, but then their enormous size had me questioning. Turns out they are actually a variety called "President Plums," but other than their size, they are essentially like my beloved Zwetschgen.

Traditionally, I go straight to my family's German recipe for Zwetschgenkuchen, but this year I decided to change it up a bit with a simpler cake. This one is not too sweet and is great on its own, or you can add a dollop of yogurt for breakfast, or dress it up with whipped cream for dessert.

September Plum Cake
Makes 15-18 servings

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 scant cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups of sifted, all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 milk, room temperature
6 cups Italian prune plums in 1/2-inch slices

Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Add half of the flour mixture and all of the milk to the creamed mixture and gently incorporate. Then add the remaining flour mixture and gently mix until just combined.

Spread dough in a lightly-greased 9x13-inch pan and arrange the plum slices over the top. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before cutting.

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