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.