Polish Plum Cake (Ciasto ze Śliwkami)

It’s the middle of fall, and we missed the short Italian prune plum season for the third year in a row.  These plums are fantastic for making homemade preserves and also for incorporating into desserts.  While we won’t have plum preserves again this year, we can still snack on those big red or black (purple?) plums that are still around in grocery stores.  We bought a large package at Costco but were in for a disappointment.  Our kids let us know what the problem was immediately:  they were too pithy and blah.  It wasn’t just one, but likely the whole batch.  What to do with all of these plums?  Either cook them and try to make preserves, or bake them in a cake.  I chose the latter.

They didn’t have much juice, so I wondered how the cake would turn out, but I was willing to give it a try.  I turned to my Polish roots to pick out a fresh plum cake to make.  I remember as a child sinking my teeth into my mom’s plum cake when plums came into season.  Those were happy memories that I wanted to pass on to my own children.  This batch of pithy plums was a sign that the time was now to do it.  There are choices in plum cake recipes.  Yeast-based is the most traditional, but time consuming so I did not try that one out for this go ’round.  It is, however, the best tasting plum cake there can possibly be.  Check out my ultimate plum cake recipe.  There is also the German plum cake, which has a touch of almond flavor in it and is super delicious.  Check out the recipe for yummy pflaumenkuchen.

Now, back to this recipe for Polish plum cake (yeastless).  First, I thoroughly washed the plums, cut them in half, and took out the pits.

If I were using Italian plums, I could stop there and use the halves for the cake.  But since these halves were way too large, I had to cut each half into slices–about three slices for each half.

On to the batter.  It was a simple cake batter where I creamed the butter and sugar first, and then added in the eggs, one at a time so the mixture wouldn’t curdle.  I followed that with some lemon zest and vanilla.  I added the flour (+ baking powder and salt) alternating with the milk until the mixture was smooth.  Take care not to beat the batter at high speed or for a long time.

The mixture should be pretty thick.

I spread the cake batter into the pan and quickly inserted the reserved plum slices (cut side up) into the batter.  If I were using Italian plums, I would just lay them on top (cut side up) and press them a little into the batter.  I quickly put together the crumb topping of sugar, spices, and butter.

To speed things up, I used my hand held mixer and zapped the mixture for less than a minute until there were crumbs.  Then I “sprinkled” the crumbs all over the plums.

It turned out that the butter I used was a little too soft, so my “crumbs” were more like soft, moist lumps, so “sprinkling” them over the plums was a challenge.  It all turned out OK in the end.  More importantly, sweet smells were floating through the house while the cake was baking in the oven.

My teenage son/photographer insisted on payment in the form of a piece of cake while the cake was still warm.

I took a taste myself.  Mmmm good.

I have to admit that it tasted better on the next day, after being in the refrigerator overnight.  It was also moister than on Day 1, despite the fact that the cake was lacking in plum juice seepage.

This cake was a hit with the family and disappeared before Day 2 was over. (Little did they know I froze part of it for later.)

Here is another view from the top.

 

This is my slice.

 

Print Recipe
Polish Plum Cake (Ciasto ze Sliwkami)
2017 © HollyTrail.com
Course Dessert
Cuisine Polish
Servings
squares
Ingredients
For the Cake
  • 2 pounds fresh plums (any variety, but Italian plums are best)
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick or 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
For the Topping
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
Course Dessert
Cuisine Polish
Servings
squares
Ingredients
For the Cake
  • 2 pounds fresh plums (any variety, but Italian plums are best)
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick or 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
For the Topping
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2" baking pan. Wash, cut in half, and remove the pits from the plums. If the plums are large, cut each half into three slices. If they are the Italian variety, keep the plum halves as is (i.e., no need to cut into smaller pieces).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and lemon zest and beat until combined. Mix in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. On low speed, gradually mix in flour mixture alternating with milk until just combined and smooth, but do not overmix.
  4. Transfer batter into baking pan. With an offset spatula, spread so that the batter is evenly distributed. Arrange plums, skin side down (i.e., cut-side up), to cover the batter layer. Push slightly into the batter. If using slices, insert slices on a diagonal into the batter rather than lying them flat.
  5. Using two knives or a hand-held electric mixer, quickly cut in the remaining butter with the spices and 1/4 cup sugar until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle mixture over the top of the plums.
  6. Bake cake in a preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until top is golden brown and a bamboo skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.
  7. When the cake has cooled completely, dust with confectioner's sugar before serving. Best if refrigerated overnight and served on the next day. Repeat dusting with confectioner's sugar just before serving. Cut into squares to serve.
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