Dimply Plum Cake

A sturdy rustic cake, gently spiced and topped with plum halves.

Sweet Italian plums burrow into a cardamom-sweet, citrus-scented cake

The concept of edible landscaping has captured my imagination: creating beautiful landscapes with food-bearing plants, shrubs and trees.

But it may be tricky, methinks, as learned while waiting for plums to ripen in a backyard tree. "Any day now," I'd hear. "You'd best get those plums before the birds get 'em." But how can a mere cook compete with birds that flutter amid the boughs, awaiting the exact second when the sun has kissed the fruit just long enough, when the sweet flesh will yield to a waiting beak hand?

Finally, one lazy-perfect Sunday morning, I stretched into the fruit-burdened branches, checking the plums for ripeness. Many were upripe, unwilling to give way. Others collapsed in my hand, where, long past ripe, ewww, bugs had already taken up residence. Someplace in the center of the ripeness continuum were a handful of juicy, plump plums.

The experience gives me new respect for commercial fruit growers who deliver almost-ready fruit to our supermarkets. I'm as happy with 'locally grown' as the next person, but my goodness, the abundance and consistency of our food supply, it's quite something. When the two sides meet and cooperate, we who so love fresh food, we're going to be as happy as birds in a late-summer plum tree.

So, what about the plum cake?!

Isn't it gorgeous? The plum cake - 'dimply plum cake' - is a favorite recipe from my favorite baking cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I'm not alone in loving Dorie's plum cake, just check all the food bloggers who've made it too. But it's classic Kitchen Parade: a few ingredients, a straight-forward technique, slightly rustic, slightly spicy, barely sweet, supremely satisfying. The cake itself is reminiscent of the peach blueberry cake from a 2005 column. Someday this winter, I shall recapture lazy summer days by topping one or the other with sour cherries and rhubarb from the freezer. Plums may be gorgeous, but if the birds get to them first, find another fruit to enjoy!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe to share that you think Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com.
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A rustic plum cake to bring dimples to your cheeks
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time-to-table: 90 minutes
Serves 9
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil (see TIPS)
  • Grated citrus zest (see TIPS)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 10 - 18 Italian plums, halved and pits removed

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an eight- or nine-inch square pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each. Beat in the oil, zest and vanilla. Turn in the flour mixture and incorporate on low speed just until mixed. With a spatula, make sure all the flour is incorporated, then pour into the prepared pan.

Arrange the plums, cut-side up and at a slight angle, in diagonal rows. Once all the plums are in place, press each one gently to settle into the cake batter but do not submerge.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is honey-colored and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, slice and serve with Swedish Cream.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving (cake only): 338Cal; 4g Protein; 15g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 46g Carb; 2g Fiber; 194mg Sodium; 63mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 7 points

Flour: I'm converting to 100% white whole wheat flour, a whole grain flour that acts, mostly, like all-purpose. It worked beautifully here, so does all-purpose.
Oil: Dorie suggests a flavorless oil such as canola or safflower. To carry through the citrus, I used a beautiful lime olive oil from O Olive Oil.
Zest: Dorie suggests orange zest, I've used orange but also lime and lemon. All add brightness.
Storage: If the cake lasts more than a day, I'd recommend covering tightly and refrigerating. Dorie says the cake doesn't freeze well.

SWEDISH CREAM Whip 1/2 cup cream and 1 tablespoon sour cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/2 tablespoon sugar and a pinch of cardamom and whip til firm peaks form.

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Beautiful photo and a wonderful recipe I look forward to making. I love the idea of an edible landscape. I've tried with herb gardens which are quite fun and kind of complicated. Some results I've seen (not mine!) have been beautiful.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna