It got cold in Ohio really fast. One weekend we were out in the garden in shorts and t-shirts, and today we woke up to frosted car windows, the heating is (finally) on, and my trusty thermal socks have been dusted off and donned.
With the weather changing so fast, it feels like we haven’t had a proper autumn and we’ve just been flung head first into winter. But thankfully, the shops are full of the best produce autumn has to offer, especially plums, pears, pumpkins- some of my favourite fruits (yes, pumpkin is a fruit by definition). I have played around with a butternut squash carbonara recipe, with lots of black pepper and sage, and juicy slices of pear have been tossed in to salads with dried cranberries and some walnuts, but plums are not a fruit that I have really baked or cooked with before, pluots even less so. Pluots, a happy find at the world’s best store Jungle Jim’s, are a hybrid of plums and apricots, with tough flesh that is as sweet as a plum, but with that distinctive, musky scent that could only be an apricot. I didn’t use these in my cake, but I did roast them with the same spices I use here, and served them with the first bowl of porridge of winter. Delicious.
Below is a simple recipe for a really crumby, quite rich cake. I’d recommend using plums with a slight squish to them- anything too ripe will break down while baking, anything too firm won’t release those delicious juices.
4 tbsp UNSALTED BUTTER
1 cup SUGAR
1/2 cup MILK (I used buttermilk- use anything but skimmed)
1 cup ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
1/2 tsp SALT
1/2 tsp BAKING SODA
1/2 tsp BAKING POWDER
1/2 tsp CARDAMOM
1/2 tsp GINGER
1/2 tsp CINNAMON
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C and grease and line a 9 inch cake pan.
Beat your butter and 3/4 of the sugar together until fluffy and yellow, adding the egg when well mixed. In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients with the milk, and then add this mixture to the egg/sugar/butter bowl.
Pour the combined batter into the cake pan and tap the pan gently to ensure an even surface and that any bubbles have risen. Slice your plums, and arrange them on top of the batter and then sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the batter and plums.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the batter has risen to surround the fruit and is golden brown. Allow the cake to cool before serving with a generous dollop of crème fraîche or whipped cream.