Sunday, September 20, 2009

Italian Plum Crumb Cake

My sweet neighbor brought me a bag of Italian plums, and I was immediately thrown back to my childhood. I think my Grandma Clark must have had these kind of plums: dark purple with the light blue smudges on the skin, with the yellowish-green flesh. I remember eating them straight off the tree, one after another. And if Grandma Clark had them then we know there had to be something truly redeeming about them. 

Grandma Clark, queen of spice cake, applesauce cookies and low-sugar jam, never had much much use for candy. There was a story circulated that she would insist on not adding the recommended amount of sugar to the batch of homemade jam. Not convinced, grandpa snuck in a whole cup of sugar to the batch and quickly stirred it in before it could be discovered. Upon tasting the finished jam, she would declare, "You see, Ellsworth, it tastes just fine without it."

Once, grandma was babysitting me. I must have been desperate for some candy, because I scaled the countertop, along it and somehow opened the tall cupboard without falling off. I discovered, much to my delight, a teacup with a few small, round candies inside. Just then, grandma entered the kitchen as I was about to pop them in my mouth. "Oh, no!", she cried. "Those are my heart pills!". Dang.

So grandma, I'm sorry for not being able to eat all these plums myself, but rather attaching them to a rather rich cake. I'm sorry I did not halve the sugar, nor did I swap out the butter for applesauce. But I'd like to think you'd like this anyway.

This recipe is adapted from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake.

Italian Plum Crumb Cake
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
1 t. lemon zest
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
pinch of salt

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
6 T. butter
about 12 Italian plums, quartered and pitted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a 10-inch springform pan by buttering it and lining it with a disc of parchment paper.

For the cake, cream the butter in large mixing bowl until soft and light. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating for about 5 minutes, until very light. Add the egg and continue beating until lighter. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together, and gradually mix in, just until blended.

For the topping, mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Melt the butter and stir it in evenly. Rub the mixture to coarse crumbs by hand.

Rinse, halve, and pit the plums. Cut into quarters. Spread cake batter into prepared pan. 

Arrange plums on top.

Add crumb topping.

Bake the cake for 50 t0 60 minutes, until crumbs are well-colored and batter is no longer liquid. Cool the cake in the pan and then run a knife around the edge to loosen it. Remove pan side and slide from base to a platter. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar.

Recipe notes:
Mine was done between 45 and 50 minutes. Don't let it go to long or else it will be dry. If your plums are on the dry side and not juicy, consider soaking them or adding a little more liquid to the batter - perhaps a tablespoon or so of the plum soaking liquid.


Jessica said...

That looks divine! It looks like a piece of art! When I make something,I just kind of throw it together!

Carrie said...

Okay, my mouth is watering and I can't stop it!