Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Fruit Enhanced Mini Cakes

A very kind neighbor dropped off at least three pints of wonderful, tart, ripe, mini plums the other day. We only got a few of our own plums this year, so I was delighted. I immediately thought of Dorie Greenspan's recipe for dimply plum cake. The lightly spice moist and delicious cake is enhanced by the juicy ripe plums, including the zing of the tart peel.

Last month when I was having lunch in Benicia with Natasha and another dear friend, we stopped at a Goodwill in the same shopping center as the lunch place. Natasha found me an adorable cake pan which had six heart shaped pans built in...sort of like a jazzed up muffin tin. Each heart shaped pan held more batter than a regular cupcake and that seemed to be perfect for turning the dimply plum cake into little heart shaped cakes to give to a Forestville friend for her birthday...and it was perfect.

Once I had the cake batter finished, I put about three tablespoons of the batter in the bottom of each little pan. I had already buttered and floured them as directed by the recipe. Then I spread the batter out to the edges of the pan, added some of the fruit, then topped that with about the same amount of batter, spread it out and topped that with more fruit. Each little pan was about half filled with fruit and batter. In the oven the batter rose and the fruit on top cooked and it was a bit difficult to make sure that the cake was cooked through. I added two minutes a couple of times to the 15 minutes I started with.

Once cooled, I removed the little cakes from the pan and fully cooled them on a wire rack. They deflated just a bit, but were still taller and wider than standard cupcakes. The best part was that they smelled sooooo good!

At the birthday party, five of us were able to share one of the little cakes, leaving the birthday girl with lots more for another day. I really liked the way that there was fruit throughout and that the lemon zest I used added more zing. The hint of nutmeg was just right, too.

Since you are unlikely to have this cute pan with the heart shapes, you can make this in a square cake pan - eight-inch preferred and that's the way I wrote up the directions below. You can play with the citrus zest, too. Orange, lemon, lime, even grapefruit can work. If you prefer cardamom or cake spice to nutmeg, try that. Any stone fruit works well, but some of my little cakes had strawberries, some raspberries and one had blueberries. Peaches, nectarines, cherries, figs would all work well. I did sprinkle some sanding sugar on top of each for a bit of sparkle and crunch, but it's optional.

Do try this at home since the Northern hemisphere is in the middle of summer fruit season so ripe, delicious fruit is easy to find and will be happy-making combined with this cake!

Simple Fresh Fruit Cake

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

½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

5 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
Grated zest of one lemon
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract or the same amount of pure vanilla paste
¼ cup safflower or other plain neutral tasting vegetable oil
3 small to medium green, red or purple plums, halved and pitted, with the skins left on
¼ cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
¼ cup fresh strawberries, rinsed, green top removed, cut in halves
¼ cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained

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, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. 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 lemon zest, vanilla or vanilla paste, and the vegetable 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 half the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out in the pan. Arrange half of the fruit on top of the batter, pushing the fruit down a bit in the batter. Take note of where each of the fruits are in the pan (if grouped together with one variety in one corner, another in a different corner, etc.) but you can also just mix the fruit and scatter evenly over the batter. Top with the remaining batter, spread out over the fruit, then top with the remaining fruit, settling the fruit down into the batter and grouping the same fruit on top of that below the batter if doing it that way. If not, just mix the fruit and scatter evenly, then press down. If desired, sprinkle a tablespoon sanding sugar over the whole top evenly (optional).

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 fruit side up. Serves 8.

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