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I have always loved Italian Prune Plums. To me they represent the beginning of fall and the Jewish New Year. Perhaps their very brief season contributes to my delight, knowing just how precious they are. And this Plum Cake with Streusel, which is buttery rich with luscious plums- is the perfect coffee cake and one that does justice to the fruit. As a sucker for a good streusel topping, I find this simple cake utterly irresistible. I think you will too.
I even have special French dessert plates that my then boyfriend surprised me with. We had passed a display window with these dessert plates and I said how much I admired them and then forgot about it. Soon after, Andrew surprised me with a set and I knew that he was a keeper. That was 39 years ago and I’ve never regretted that decision!
Unfortunately, prune plums are usually available for only a few weeks at the beginning of fall. So if your store is already out of them, other plums can be substituted. You simply need to cut them into wedges. This lovely cake with lots of delicious streusel on top will also work well with apples. I would choose a Honeycrisp, MacIntosh or Golden Delicious. You can leave the skin on. I would not use a Granny Smith, however. It would be a bit too tough here. Just don’t make the wedges any bigger than 1/4-inch thick.
Yield: One 8 or 9-inch cake
6 to 8 Italian Prune Plums, depending on size for an 8-inch cake. (A 9-inch cake might require a few more.)
1 scant cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
1.5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher or fine sea salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 Tablespoons milk or cream
1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
For Streusel Topping
1/2 cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (114g or 8 Tablespoons), melted
1.25 cups (157g) all-purpose, unbleached flour
Sifted Powdered or Confectioner’s Sugar
For the cake
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease or butter the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan. Cover the bottom with a round of parchment and then grease (I like a vegetable spray for ease) the parchment round and the sides of the pan. Place about 2 generous Tablespoons of granulated sugar in the bottom of the pan. Then gently roll the pan to coat the bottom and sides with the sugar. If there is any excess, just pour it out and discard. If you need a bit more, add a bit more. Set the pan aside.
Here’s a tip: buttery cakes always, always leak while baking. So if you are about to buy a springform pan, get one that has a built-in tray. I only recently started using one and I love it! (FYI I receive no remuneration from this and I am certain that pans by other companies could also be good.) Also, I have found that most 9-inch cakes are even better in an 8-inch pan. They come out a little higher and retain their texture longer without drying out.
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beaters frequently. The end result should be VERY fluffy and a pale yellow.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Then add the milk or cream, salt, almond and vanilla extracts and beat well. The mixture will look curdled but will smooth out as soon as you add the flour.
Sift the flour and baking powder. You can omit this step but it makes for a finer crumb on the cake.
Add the flour and baking powder and only beat long enough to incorporate it. Don’t over mix which results in a tough cake. Using a spatula or large spoon, transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Tap the pan against the counter to get rid of air bubbles and using the spatula or the back of a spoon, smooth out the surface so that it is even and goes to the edges of the pan.
Cut each plum in half down the natural indentation and remove the pit. Cut each half, lengthwise down the middle so you now have 4 pieces. Carefully place the quarters cut-side down into the batter. Slightly push it into the batter.
For the Streusel Topping
Melt the butter.
Mix together all of the remaining ingredient and pour the melted butter over the top. Using a fork, scrape the mixture together, leaving some clumps. Everything should be moistened with butter and with no flour showing, but you don’t want the topping perfectly smooth.
Distribute the streusel all across the top of the plums, making sure that there are no bare spots.
Place the cake on the middle rack in the oven and bake for one (1) hour. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then take a thin knife or spatula and carefully run it around the inside of the pan. Loosen the spring on the pan and carefully remove the ring.
Allow the cake to continue cooling for another 20 minutes. Then using an off-set cake spatula, slide it under the cake lifting it carefully. The parchment paper should slide out. Place it on a cake board and leave it on the rack to cool completely. While you can cut the cake as soon as it is cooled, I prefer it the next day.
Once the cake is fully cooled, place it on a cake plate and cover it well. I love a well-fitting cake dome for preserving cakes. At this point, or just before serving, dust the cake woth confectioner’s sugar that is sifted over the top.