Typically, I reserve Friday posts for photos only. But I had to make an exception today because I made something yesterday that required an immediate interruption of my regularly scheduled programming. And I hear you all snickering…”regularly scheduled programming” is reserved for the good food bloggers who post on a regular basis. Something I have neither been nor done lately.
I’m going to pretend that I don’t hear you…
I’m always proud of myself when I step out of my comfort zone and try something I’ve already convinced myself that I won’t like. I did this yesterday. You see, I don’t care for the taste of various stone fruits once they’re cooked. Peaches, nectarines, apricots put anywhere near heat has me running as fast as I can in the opposite direction. After many unsuccessful attempts to convince myself otherwise, I have embraced the fact that, for me, these fruits are best eaten out of hand or in other various forms of their rawness. So when I find a recipe where everything appeals to me except for the fact that I need to once again confront my baked stone fruit demons, this time it was an innocent little prune plum, I begin to sabotage myself. I post the Italian Plum Cake recipe on my refrigerator door as a reminder and promptly begin to cover it with my children’s school-related notices. I willingly purchase adorable, sweet prune plums at the farmers market and snack on them daily, secretly hoping that I will eat too many and not have enough to make the recipe. I decide on a whim, hours before my extended family is due to arrive to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, that I will make the Italian Prune Cake I’ve been trying to ignore. My daughter didn’t ask for this cake (she wanted red velvet and I made that too) and since I did everything I could to keep myself from giving it a trial run beforehand, it was a risky endeavor to serve it to guests and a major rule breaker all in one. I already had the disclaimer and excuse ready if it turned out to be a flop, and I was prepared to use it.
But it wasn’t a flop.
It was a delicious, lightly sweet and mildly nutty Italian prune plum cake with a hint of orange and spice that paired so well with my decision to slightly brown the butter. The flavor of the plums intensified during baking and their sweet and enjoyably sticky consistency won me over. The best part about this cake, and the one thing that will stand out in my memory every time I see or use prune plums, will be the look on my mother’s face when she took her first bite. It was priceless. And when she went on to explain that it reminded her of my Belgian great-grandmother’s plum galette, I was so pleased and humbled by the power of food.
This recipe is an adapted version from A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes, by David Tanis. Italian prune plums typically have a darker, more purple skin than those featured here, which more than likely are a different variety. Still, the results are the same: mildly sweet, slightly sticky and definitely delicious.
- 1 cup unblanched almonds
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly browned
- 2 pounds Italian prune plums, pitted and thickly sliced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter a 10-inch tart pan or springform pan.
- Put the almonds and 1/2 cup of sugar into a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground and look like sand.
- Add the flour, salt, orange zest, and cinnamon and pulse a few more times just to incorporate the added ingredients.
- Transfer the nut mixture to a bowl and set aside.
- Meanwhile beat the eggs with the milk and stream the slightly browned butter into the mixture whisking the entire time.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth. (The batter will be runny.)
- Pour the batter into the pan and smooth, if necessary, with a spatula. Arrange the plum slices on top in a circular or other decorative pattern. The thicker the plum slices the deeper they will sink into the batter.
- Sprinkle remaining 1/4 of sugar generously over the top.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- The cake is best served within a few hours of baking.