Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Plum-Almond Cake

I have to admit that I've never really cared for plums.  Unless you get a perfect one, they're often tart and mealy.  Although the plums we get in our CSA share are better than most, some of them are less than perfect and my threshold for less-than-perfection in plums is pretty low.

Which is why I put them into a cake.

The base recipe is a classic French almond cake.  While many recipes of this sort call for almond paste, I didn't feel like going to the store to get almond paste so instead I used whole almonds and a little extra sugar.  The almonds are ground in a food processor, but not so much so the final texture of the cake is perfectly smooth - I like little bits of almonds strewn throughout the cake.  Rather than use almond extract, I opted for vanilla to bring out the sweetness of the plums, but almond extract would be fine, too.

You could use any stone fruit in this cake - apricots and peaches would work well - but the tartness of the plums is really nice against the plush, ever so sweet cake.  I made this cake several weeks ago with raspberries and they worked well because they, like plums are quite tart.  That being said, plums are by far my favorite fruit in this cake - their flavor is just perfect here.

Although I didn't eat most of the plums we got in our CSA share last week, they were in fact perfect for this cake - tart and lovely with their magenta skin and vivid yellow interiors, making this cake not only delicious but gorgeous.


Plum-Almond Cake
makes one 9" cake

12 ounces small plums
2/3 cup sugar
4 ounces whole almonds
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


Cut each plum into 8 wedges and set aside.  Butter and flour a 9" cake pan and heat your oven to 325 F.

Put all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the almonds, and the 2 tablespoons of flour in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the almonds are finely ground, about 20 seconds.

Cut the butter into a few pieces and add to the food processor, then pulse until a paste forms.

Add the eggs one at a time, processing well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and pulse to combine.

Add the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt, and process until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bang it a few times on the counter to evenly distribute it and remove any air bubbles.

Arrange the plum wedges in tight concentric circles, pressing them slightly into the batter.  Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon of sugar over the plums.  (I didn't use the full 12 ounces of plums but I should have - you can see in the final photo that after the cake rises, there is a lot of space between the plums.)

Bake until lightly golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean, 45-48 minutes.

Let the cake cool for a half hour in the pan set on a wire rack.  Run an offset spatula around the edges of the pan, then invert the cake onto a plate.  Invert the cake again onto a serving plate.

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