It seems like I keep losing track of time lately. I could have sworn it was barely February and suddenly the month is almost over. My plans for getting my applications to graduate schools in by Thanksgiving took a nose dive as I am still trying to pull everything together. A couple of days this past week I wondered when Mardi Gras was and had been contemplating making a King Cake for such occasion, only to get online today to find out today was, in fact, Mardi Gras.
On occasion, time actually can work in your favor. I woke up to my alarm this morning and a friendly reminder that I had a dentist appointment just before noon. Before long it was time for me to head out the door and after a rather thorough brushing (is it just me, or do you spend more time than usual on your teeth just before a dentist visit?) I grabbed my bag and took off to my car. I slung my bag over to the passenger seat, put my keys in the ignition, and turned.
A quick call to my Dad, who knows more about cars than I will ever pretend to, confirmed that the battery was probably dead and in order for the car to start I would need a jump. With no one home to give said jump, my only option was to call the dentist’s office and reschedule.
Suddenly I found myself with a sizable chunk of time free, so what to do? Bake! What did you think I was gonna do? Shine my shoes? Actually…they are looking a little worn…
Although it isn’t the best season for them, when I saw plums at the store this weekend I knew I had to get some and make something delicious with them. This super tasty dream was made true with a little help from Dorie Greenspan. See, I called her up and said “Plum cake?” and she came running over to dance around my kitchen while we made tonight’s dessert and belted it out along with Adele, who had just happened to also stop by…at least that’s how I wish it had happened. In reality it was just me, a bunch of plums, and a pinch of cardamom.
The resulting cake is sweet, succulent, and slightly spicy. It is juicy from the plums, which add their own depth of flavor and offer a bite as well. The actual cake is moist, soft, and intriguing from that hint of cardamom. Dorie mentions having it with coffee as an early morning treat and, after the taste I had tonight, I am looking forward to a slice for breakfast tomorrow!
Dimply Plum Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Grated zest of one orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the pan with flour, tap out the excess, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest, and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer to low-speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
4. Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter, jiggling the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes – during which time the plums’ juice will return to the fruit – then run the knife around the sides of the pan and un-mold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.
Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours