Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Plum and vanilla cake
Summer is over. Well, technically. As of the 1st of March. But last I looked, the beaches are still packed, I'm still wearing shorts and stone fruit is still in the supermarkets. So I thought I'd best take advantage. Of the great bounty of summer produce, plums are a particular favourite of mine. They don't have the troublesome fur of peaches or apricots, the straightforward sweetness of nectarines, or the premium price of cherries. They're compact yet substantial and come in all sorts of pretty shades from blue black to pale yellow. I love them firm and somewhat sour, but soft and sweet is just fine too. Especially when used in cooking, whether a jam, a pie... or a cake, like the one I made last weekend. This recipe comes from Bill Granger, whose food I associate very much with Sydney summers: fresh, clean and bright with flavour. This is food to be eaten outdoors, perfect for picnics, or the rooftop deck of a Surry Hills terrace, where I found myself with friends on Friday night. After a hot and humid day, as night fell, you could feel autumn in the air. But the taste of summer was still on our plates. The plums, sandwiched between a rich, butter cake bottom and a crumbly streusel top, slump and soften while cooking, and cut the overall sweetness - and the pale golden interior - of the dessert with a tart thread of red. So it's goodbye to summer... and, for me, to Sydney for a while. I'm skipping autumn and winter and heading straight for spring. See you there.
Plum and vanilla cake
Adapted from Bill Granger's bill's food
This is particuarly lovely drizzled with pouring cream.
90g (3/4 cup) flour
100g (3 1/2 oz) butter
90g (1/3 cup) sugar
180g (6 oz) butter, softened
250g (1 cup) sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
185g (1 1/2 cups) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
500g (1 lb 2 oz) plums, halved and seeded
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). To make the topping, place the flour, butter and sugar in a bowl and rub with your fingertips til crumbly (or whiz briefly in a food processor).
To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar togehter in a bowl til light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and fold into the mixture. Spread into a greased 24cm (9 inch) cake tin lined with baking paper. Top with halved plums with the cut side up. Sprinkle with the topping and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.