Friday, August 21, 2009

Cinnamon Sugar Plum Cake

There are time when I see a recipe that, for some reason, grabs my attention and will not let go until I finally just make it. This is only troublesome when I do not have any occasion to make something like a pie or a cake, since I'm not sure what I would do with a whole dessert sitting on my counter top (other than eat the whole thing myself, of course). So I decided that my co-workers would get to try this Cinnamon Sugar Plum cake this week, and I'm happy for them to try it.

I think perhaps I'm very susceptible to language and the power of suggestion that words can impart, because once I read “sugar plum” in the title of this particular recipe, I was hooked. After brief reflection, I realize that I'm drawn to the warm, Christmas-y connotations of sugar plums, and despite the fact that it is August, and plums are in season now, I simply could not let go of the term “sugar plum.”

And I'm glad that I did not. The cake is fairly simple to make, yes, but the flavors of cinnamon paired with sweet plum are absolutely heavenly, and certainly not season-specific. It is not too heavy for summer, nor is it too lemony for winter. I tried my slice with lemonade, on a warm evening on my balcony, but it would also be lovely with hot cider, sitting in front of the fireplace. The color that the cinnamon lends to the browned cake is also positively gorgeous, and an image that comes to mind when the term "rustic" is used: I could envision this cake on a heavy wooden farm house kitchen table, waiting to be devoured after a large lunch.

The cake also deepened my appreciation for the plum, a fruit I would never think to pick up at the farmer's market. Before buying a few, I did a bit of research on the plum; the plum is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and there are over 2,000 varieties of plums, with over 100 available in the United States. When buying plums, look for ones that yield to slight pressure and are soft at the tips.

Cinnamon Sugar Plum Cake


1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
4 large plums (about 1 1/4 pounds), pitted, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter spring form pan. Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in ¾ cup sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, then lemon juice and lemon peel, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan.
Press plum wedges halfway into batter in circles, spacing slightly apart. Mix remaining 1 ½ tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle over cake. Bake until cake is browned on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cut around cake; release pan sides. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

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