We grow three varieties of plums in our yard. Needless to say, when we have a good year we are swimming in plums. This was a good year.
In addition to eating them fresh, we will preserve much of our harvest for later use. Our Late Santa Rosa and Mariposa plums are both sweeter varieties and will be dried for eating or baking, as well as frozen, which is also good for baking or being used as you would fresh. Our more tart Santa Rosa is frozen for use in jams and plum butter. (Read here about how to pit plums without stabbing yourself, generally considered a bad thing.)
Plums are grown widely throughout Greece, with the island of Skopelos being famous for their diversity of sweet fruits. There, too, they are usually eaten fresh, or dried for later eating, baking, or even used in stews. The village women are not about to let a good harvest go to waste, and so many of these summer treats will be turned into preserves, and baked into pies and cakes. This particular cake is a perfect compliment to a mid-day Greek Coffee.
The advantage of the modern world is that we have these things called freezers. This gives us the opportunity to save some of that summer payload for enjoyment later on. The plums I used for this cake were harvested at their peak, pitted, halved and frozen. Peaches, nectarines, or apricots could also be used. Now we all can enjoy the taste of summer, even in November (or December, or January, February is good…).
Plum Cake Recipe
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 lb. plums, fresh or frozen (apricots, peaches, or nectarines can be substituted)
- 1 cup butter at room temperature (I use salted butter, if you use plain add a couple of pinches of salt)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar or a generous 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. orange extract, or 3/4 tsp. freshly grated orange zest (optional, but really good)
- extra sugars for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 inch square or a 9 inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper on the bottom. You will want the parchment paper. I forgot to put it in mine, that’s how I know you will want it for yours.
I measure flour by fluffing it up in the container with a whisk and then scooping it up with the measuring cup. Measure and put both flours into a bowl. You can use all purpose in place of the cake flour, but you will be happier with the results if you do a blend of cake and all purpose. Your cake will be both tender and sturdy, the best of both in the cake world! Add baking powder, salt if needed, and cinnamon. Whisk all together and set aside.
If using frozen fruit, allow it to defrost about half way. Don’t microwave it to speed up the process, as this will cause them to lose too much of their juices and become mushy. Cut fruit up into small wedges. My plums are a little smaller than those in the store, so they were only quartered. For larger fruits, cut each quarter in half to ensure proper baking.
Using a stand or a hand mixer, beat the crud out of the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars, eggs, and orange extract or zest. Continue to beat well for a couple of minutes more. GENTLY add in the dry ingredients by sprinkling 1/3 of the flour mixture in at a time and gently folding it in to the butter mix with a spatula. Mix until just combined. Don’t over mix your batter at this point or you will wind up with a very tough cake. Once combined, dump it all into your prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
Put your fruit on top of the batter in the pan. Don’t be afraid to crowd it a little. Once they are all arranged give them a little push into the batter. This lets the juice from the fruit trickle into your cake and anchors the plums in place. Take about 1 Tbsp. of each of the sugars and sprinkle over the top of the plums and batter for a nicely sweetened crust.
Bake for 50-ish minutes at 350 degrees. Check on it around the 45 minute mark to see how much more it might need to go. Remove from oven when the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool about 20 minutes before attempting to remove from the pan. Loosen the sides of the cake with a narrow spatula, as needed. Place any flat dish or tray over the top of the cake and while holding that dish in place, flip the cake over onto the dish. Quickly place another plate that you want your cake to end up in onto the bottom of the cake and flip the cake over again. Practice makes perfect! Enjoy this cake as a mid-day treat with a cup of Greek Coffee or as an after dinner finale with a cup of tea.