Friday, September 23, 2011

Plum Kuchen

Photos courtesy of the Girl

A few weeks ago, the girl and I were at Whole Foods and she spotted some prune plums. She immediately asked if they were organic because she had a plum kuchen (German for cake) recipe she wanted to try. Unfortunately they were not, so we left the store without the plums.
The next week at the Copley Square farmer's market, I was looking a the fantastic fruit at the stands and what did I find? Organic prune plums! I left the market with a quart of plums and knew a plum kuchen would be baked in the near future.
The prune plums are Italian and are smaller than the standard plums you see at the store. They have a very nice dark color and their firmness stands up well in the kuchen. The recipe original recipe was changed slightly by the girl (changes included below) to have cardamom instead of cinnamon. She also added vanilla extract for a bit more depth of flavor.

Plum Kuchen
Adapted from The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom or more, to taste
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
24 halves pitted Italian (prune or purple) plums

cinnamon to taste  (can omit this)

1. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream the butter and the 3/4 cup of sugar until pale in color (5 minutes or more is ideal). Sift the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt together and add to the butter and sugar mixture. Make a well, add the eggs and vanilla, and beat just to combine. Be careful not to overwork the dough - folding is great for this. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 9- or 10-inch springform pan (or an 8 x 8 square pan). Cover the top with the plums, skin sides down. Mix the cinnamon with the remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle this over the top.

3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired.

4. To serve, let the cake return to room temperature and reheat at 300 degrees until warm, if desired. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.

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