Brandied Plum Cake
If you needed more proof of the versatility of my basic cake batter, this dense, moist dessert with fresh and dried plums and a crumble topping will make my case. It’s a cross between a cake and a pudding, and it tastes so good when it’s not completely set in the middle – almost like licking the cake batter bowl (but without the guilt and the raw eggs!). It’s the kind of thing I serve when I know we will be sitting around the table for some time after the main course, talking, drinking wine, maybe having a little cheese. Once we’ve digested a bit, I would bring this out. You could make this with all fresh plums or only prunes, but I think the combination of chewy and soft fruit is what makes it interesting.
|170g (6oz)||stoned prunes|
|240ml (8½ fl oz), as needed||Brandy or Armagnac|
|For the crumble:|
|140g (5oz)||plain flour|
|65g (2¼ oz)||sugar|
|Pinch||fine sea salt|
|75 g (2½ oz)||salted butter, at room temperature|
|For the cake layer:|
|245g (8½ oz)||plain flour|
|1½ tsp||baking powder|
|¼ tsp||fine sea salt|
|110g (4oz)||unsalted butter, at room temperature|
|300g (10½ oz)||granulated sugar|
|2||large eggs, at room temperature|
|175ml (6 fl oz)||double cream|
|30g (1oz)||cold salted butter|
|25g (¾ oz)||sugar|
You will need: an electric mixer.
1. Stone the fresh plums and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the prunes in half. Combine the plums and prunes in a small bowl and cover with the brandy. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Soaking the fresh plums in liqueur gives even out-of-season fruit a flavour boost.
2. Make the crumble: Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Slice the butter and add it to the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, rub the mixture together until it is well combined and holds together when squeezed in your fist. Set aside at room temperature.
3. Make the cake layer: Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C Fan). Lightly butter a 23 × 33 cm (9 × 13 inch ) tin.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until light and fluffy. Use the tip of a small knife to split the vanilla pods lengthwise, then scrape the seeds into the batter, saving the pods for another use. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with two additions of the cream, scraping down the bowl as needed, and mix until smooth. Spread the batter in the tin.
5. Strain the fruit through a sieve set over a bowl, reserving the soaking liquid. Scatter the soaked fruits over the cake batter and use a spoon to push them down into the batter. Spread the crumble topping over the batter, leaving a few large pieces. Cut the cold butter into small cubes. Dot the crumble with the butter and sprinkle with the sugar.
6. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake (avoid the fruit!) comes out with moist crumbs, 40 to 45 minutes. Set the tin on a wire rack to cool. Serve it slightly warm or cooled to room temperature, with a drizzle of the reserved soaking liquid.
I love this cake when it is slightly undercooked with a very moist centre. If you prefer, bake it for about 55 minutes, or until it is completely baked and the crumbs on the toothpick are dry.
It is super-delicious either way.