Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Plum Lucky

Another part of our luck in landing here in our beautiful home is that we are right next to the volunteer fire station. When we first moved here we weren't sure how lucky that was because they still used the siren to call the volunteer to the station to go out on a call...sometimes at 2 am! Eventually we learned to wake up hearing the siren, think 'Oh, it's just the the fire siren', and then go back to sleep.

Now they use pagers, but we still see how hard the volunteers work. In California volunteers are required to have as much training as paid fire fighters, so there are drills each week on Thursday nights at the fire station, plus practice going on when volunteers can arrange it during the rest of the week. A few evenings ago I decided to make some plum coffee cake for the volunteers who were on call. It's a recipe I've been wanting to make since February and it seemed like plum season would never get here.
A tender, moist, buttery coffee cake with brown sugar, vanilla and cardmom flavors cradles plum halves. The plums first give up their juice as they cook, and then reclaim it s they cool. The plum halves sort of sink into the dough, so some of the dough gets the juices, too. The tang of the plums goes so well with that rich, delicious dough. Sweetie and I had a piece each, then the rest went next door. The volunteers seemed pretty please with the idea of fresh cake. We're really pleased that they volunteer their time to keep us all safe, particularly since fire season has come early to California.

Take a look at this coffee cake...isn't it pretty?

Andrea at Andrea's Recipes is hosting Grow Your Own and this post certainly qualifies since the plums come from my own tree down the drive. Since it is now a twice a month event, if you are growing your own food, consider joining in.

I changed the recipe a bit, using a combination of white and whole wheat flours instead of just white, using dark brown sugar instead of light brown, using a lot more butter and only a tablespoon of oil, and Meyer lemon flavored olive oil at that. Since I had some from making the Danish Braid, I used vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract. I also found that I didn't need to bake it quite so long as called for in the Greenspan recipe.

Simple Fresh Plum Coffee Cake
Based on Dorie Greenspan’s Dimply Plum Cake in Baking:From my home to yours

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
Grated zest of one orange
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract or the same amount of pure vanilla paste
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used Meyer Lemon flavored olive oil)
8 small to medium red or purple plums (I used fresh off the tree Santa Rosa red plums), halved and pitted, with the skins left on

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a square 8-inch baking pan. Center a rack in the middle of the oven.

On a sheet of waxed paper or in a bowl, whisk together the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is soft and creamy, about 3 minutes at medium mixer speed.

Add the dark brown sugar and beat 2 minutes more. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the bowl and beaters. Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the bowl and beaters. On medium speed, add the orange zest, vanilla or vanilla paste, and the olive oil and beat to combine completely. Reduce mixer speed to low and blend in the dry ingredient mixture, beating until just combined. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the bowl and beaters. and mix again briefly if needed to mix in any flour from the sides or bottom of the bowl.

Using a rubber or silicon spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out in the pan. Arrange the plums on top of the batter, ( in rows of four usually works), pushing the plums down a bit in the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden and puffed around the plums. A thin knife inserted in the center will come out clean.

Place the cake on a rack to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool with the plum side up. Serves 8.


  1. Anonymous12:04 AM

    Well, I love plum cakes. In August and September it's plum-time here in Germany and I am already thinking of what kind of plum-cakes I will try next. So I think, I will taste your recipe. It sounds great!

  2. I just picked up a couple of pounds of plums from a neigbor's tree! This coffee cake looks delicious!

  3. Oh that looks so delicious! I have Dorie's cookbook but haven't tried this one yet, so I must make it while plums are still in season. We don't have a plum tree yet, but it's on our list. :-)

    Thanks for sharing your tasty coffee cake with Grow Your Own!

  4. Your cake is SO pretty - almost a pity to cut into it. The volunteer firefighters are mighty lucky guys. Now you'll have to get their support so that you can create a volunteer firefighter calendar for all your friend (wink wink...say no more)

  5. Oh, YUM, cardamom and citrus. I was just looking at it and thinking, "Hmm. Ginger." MUST do this before the soft fruit runs out and gives way to berries ...which, oddly, here come LATER than soft fruit.

  6. It's so important to treat those volunteers right - some time you might need them to come to your house in the middle of the night. This plum cake looks like the perfect way to show you care.

  7. Alright now I can't decided whether to make the tart or the cake...you shouldn't give me choices!!!!

  8. Elle, I can give you a list of adjectives besides pretty! :)

  9. This cake looks delicious. I love plums baked into goods, they always seem to intensify in flavour.

  10. Kirsten, would love to know if you try either the tart or cake with your plums.

    Helene, the plums really go well with this cake...and look pretty too.

    Andrea, plum trees seem almost impossible to damage, at least here, so I do hope you can plant one one day. In the meantime, this cake is probably great with any kind of plum.

    Giz, Gosh, I hope that wasn't what they thought I wanted when I brought them cake...but it's an interesting fundraising idea...I'll keep you in mind if they do one :)

    Tadmack, Now that you mention it, ginger would be a great addition...maybe some finely diced candied ginger.Mmmmm.

    Cookie Baker Lynn, works like a win-win...they get cake and have kind thoughts about us, I eat less and don't fear stepping on the scale. :)

    Peabody, I trust that you will make the right choice...or both recipes..hahah.

    Patricia, Awww!

    Katie, I think that's why plums baked into sweets are so good...extra plum flavor and sweetness.