Harvest season is fast approaching, bringing forward some of my favourite fruit and the funnest thing to do on less than perfect weather days - baking!
The Italian plum cake recipe I'm about to share with you is a spin-off the apricot almond cake I've been baking at least once (if not twice!) a week ever since apricots decided to ripen. Only in this one is gluten free and warmed up with some spices.
The plums you should use are the Italian plums, aka blue plums or prune plums. These and sugar plums are the only plums you can split open and pit without squeezing their juice out recklessly... These plums always appear dusty when picked up fresh from the tree, and that dust gives their naturally purple skin a surreal blue hue. The dust or powder is, in fact, natural fruit enzymes that assist in digesting them. Therefore, I don't even bother with washing them, but I'll leave that decision up to you.
I've also added some spices, and of course you can feel free to leave them out if you are not into these spices, or come up with your own spice combination you like for these special plums. The almonds this time are unblanched. So grind up some whole or sliced almonds in a coffee grinder for this recipe. It will give the cake a nicer flavour. I find that sliced almonds have a fair amount of bitter almonds among them, which make their flavour even more perfect for the cake (in which case, you may not need any bitter almond extract at all!).
My first time I made it with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, which is the typical Eastern European pairing with prunes as in Povidl (prune plum butter). The 2nd time around I've decided to experiment with black cardamom - my newly found farouvite spice. I'm pleased to announce that the results were phenomenal!
10 Tbs salted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cups evaporated cane sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (or use vanilla paste if you have - it's amazing!)
1 tsp pure almond extract
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1 black cardamom, freshly ground in a mortar and pestle
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg, grated on a microplane (optional)
2 tsp. baking powder 1 cup buckwheat flour (be sure NOT to use a buckwheat pancake mix!) 1 cup (200gr) ground sliced or whole almonds (with the brown peel)
1/4 cup sour milk
16 prune plums, halved and pitted
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Whip butter and sugar with a blender.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract and spices.
- Add the baking powder, flour and ground almonds
- Add the sour milk
- Line a springform pan with parchment paper
- Pour the batter and even it out with a rubber spatula (it is a rather solid batter, almost resembling a drop cookie batter)
- Place the halved prune plums, face down, and press slightly onto the batter
- Bake for 30-40 minutes (until a knife inserted in middle of the cake comes out clean)
Best served warm and fresh out of the oven; or wait till the next day - it actually becomes moister the next day! Best to keep in room temperature, so if you don't anticipate eating it within 3 days and you live in a hot climate, by all means refrigerate it and bring to room temperature before serving.
* Equipment you will need for this recipe:
Standup or hand mixer
12" spinrgform pan
measuring spoons and cups
mortar and pestle