I admit, this is not the first time I’ve blogged about this cake, but here’s the thing: It’s so good, so easy and so perfect for this time of year, I just couldn’t help but post it again. Last time I made the cake, I opted to use the mass of husk/ground cherries that were coming out of my garden, but this year I’m showing you how to make it the classic way: with plums.
This cake recipe by Marion Burros was first printed in the New York Times in 1982 and continued to run for the remainder of the decade every single September, until one year they said enough is enough. But people noticed, and they were not happy. They sent angry letters demanding the recipe be reprinted, and so The Times did one more time, but with a note urging people to clip save it, because this would most definitely be the last.
This cake comes together in a flash. Simple ingredients, simple measurements and the best of the best summer fruit. It doesn’t seem like anything special, but it is, and you’ll understand once you taste it. Something happens in the oven that can only be described as magic. I love kitchen magic.
The fruit is sweet-tart and jammy, with just enough firmness to still know that it’s a plum. I actually opt to add in a bit more fruit to make this almost like a buckle, but you can adjust the amount to your taste. The deep purple hue bleeds all throughout the batter, and the cake itself comes in waves. It’s light, but still has a dense chewy quality that is completely addictive. This is the kind of cake that tastes best when eaten with your hands while hovered over the sink, and with all that fruit, I find it more than acceptable to eat for breakfast.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon, divided*
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6-12 plums, depending size, pitted and halved**
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan. Cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. You can use an electric mixer, but I find a wooden spoon and a little elbow grease to the job just fine. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix until just combined.
- Spread the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the halved plums cut-side-down, then use your fingers to gently press them into the batter. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit, then mix together the remaining tablespoon of sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle that over the top.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (of raw batter, that is. ) Allow the cake to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes prior to cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature. The cake is also excellent served cold after chilling in the fridge overnight.
- *Depending on how sweet your plums are and how sweet you like your cake, the sugar can be cut down to 3/4 cup.
- **You will use more or less plums depending on the variety and size, but also depending on your preference. I tend to use more plums for a fruitier cake, but you can always opt to use less for a cakier-cake. You can't go wrong either way, trust me.