If you have been following my blog then you know that I get REALLY excited when for a brief time each year Italian prune plums are available at the market. Check out the Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake or my Italian Prune Plum Cake. I have been making this particular Plum Kuchen (basically a butter cake) for probably 50 years. YIKES! It is simple and wonderful and can easily be adapted to use apples or other stone fruits. It takes no time to whip up and is actually better the next day. It also can successfully be frozen, thawed and gently reheated just to freshen it up. Just leave off the powdered sugar until you are actually ready to serve it. But act fast – prune plums are only available for about 3 weeks and this year they came early.
Plum Kuchen (Butter Cake)
Yield: One 9-inch cake
10 – 12 Italian Prune Plums
1 scant cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
Zest of one small lemon
1.5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons milk or cream
1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons of sliced raw almonds (optional)
About 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
1-2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
Powdered Sugar for garnish (optional)
- Butter and lightly flour (or better yet, use one of those sprays that already has flour in it) a 9-inch spring-form pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This can be done by hand, but unless you have powerful arms, you will achieve a better result with a standing mixer. Add the lemon zest and mix through.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well after each addition, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Add the baking powder, flour, salt and milk or cream and beat until fluffy. There is not tons of batter, but it is enough. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
- Cut the plums in half lengthwise and remove the pits. Sometimes this is very easy and other times the pits really are stuck in there. The irony is that the tastier and juicier the plum, the harder it is to nicely remove the pit. Work with a small sharp knife and make as clean a job of it as you can. (You can always sprinkle the almonds across where it isn’t so perfect.)
- Place the plums, cut side up in concentric circles across the top of the batter. Get as many plum halves on top as you can manage and nibble any disasters! Sprinkle with sugar and scatter with the sliced almonds. Dot with butter.
- Bake for 60-75 minutes (In large part it depends on the fruit you use and the quirks of your particular oven) or until the fruit is bubbling and the parts of the cake you can see are nicely browned. It is really difficult to over-bake this when using the prune plums since the cake only gets moister over time. Remove the cake to a cooling rack and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, loosen the latch on the spring-form and carefully remove the ring. Finish cooling the cake completely on the rack. At this point you can either wrap the cake carefully for freezing or get it ready to serve.
- When you are ready to serve the cake, remove it from the bottom of the spring-form and place on a cake plate. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. The sugar will absorb into the fruit the longer it sits.