Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rustic Plum Cake

For my birthday I received several baking related books from my family. One of those books was America's Test Kitchen's Family Baking Book. The thing that I really like about this book is that it tells you the best way to bake, mix, roll, etc, and then they tell you why it is the best way. Their job is to experiment and find out what the best way to make the perfect baked good is and then share it with their readers. Isn't that awesome? I think it is. I feel like I am learning something and therefore my baking is productive somehow :-)

The first recipe that I chose to make from this book was a Rustic Plum Cake. It struck me because it is not your average, run-of-the-mill cake. It is a sweet almond cake with cooked plums on top. It is just sweet enough, but not too sweet. We brought it over to share with some friends for dessert. We each had 2 pieces and it was gone within a half hour. Let me tell you something: I NEVER eat two pieces of cake. Okay. This cake is good. Do you get it? It would be great with some vanilla ice cream too. Something to remember for the future, I guess.

Rustic Plum Cake

*Recipe from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book Page 324

Makes one 9-inch round cake

3 Tablespoons Brandy (see note below)
2 Tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
1 Lb Italian plums, halved and pitted
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Slivered almonds
3/4 Cup All purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and softened
1 Large Egg, room temperature
1 Large Egg Yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

*1 Tablespoon of water can be substituted for the brandy

Cook the brandy and jam together in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until it becomes a thick syrup. This should take 2 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and place plums, skin side up, in the syrup. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook until the plums have released their juices and the syrup is thickened. This should take about 5 minutes. Let the plums cool in the skillet while you prepare the cake batter.

Adjust an oven rack to the center of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.

Place the granulated sugar and the almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles course sand. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extracts and process until smooth.

Scrape the batter into your springform pan. Stir the plums around in the skillet to coat them with syrup. Spoon the plums over the batter, skin side down. I added a little of the jam mixture along with the plums, but the original recipe does not say to do this. I just felt it added a little more flavor to the top of the cake. Bake the cake 40-50 minutes,rotating the pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, about 2 hours. Remove the sides of the pan and transfer the cake to a serving platter. Beware, the cake will be sticky and difficult to remove from the spring form bottom, so be gentle with it.

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