Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ready for something new

I've been trying to do a better job of blogging lately, and I think that for the most part I'm succeeding.  One thing I've been trying to do is get myself on a more consistent posting schedule, about three times a week.  Tuesdays, of course, are pretty much reserved for Tuesdays with Dorie.  I'm also trying to post some sort of bread about once a week (either BBA recipes or other breads).  The third category is more random.  I've been making an effort use some of the many cookbooks on my shelves more frequently.  So while I'm sure I'll continue to make some of my old favorites (like these scones that we had again for breakfast this morning), I want to make and share some new ones, as well.  

While we're still seeing pretty good strawberries (and I keep buying them), more stone fruits are showing up at Central Market as well.  I need to remember to look at the farmers market next weekend, too.  I haven't had much luck with peaches yet (a lot of them are still rock hard and not smelling like much), so I've been checking out the plums (and relatives like plumcots and pluots) as well.  I saw some red plums last week that seemed good and not too expensive, and brought them home.  Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled when I sampled one--the texture was fine, but it didn't have much flavor other than sweet.  It reminded me that I usually buy darker plums with red flesh.  Then it occurred to me that maybe they'd be better if I baked them.  The question was, what to make?  I wasn't in the mood for something like a crisp, and I was a bit leery of a cake, since I've had bad experiences with the Dimply Plum Cake from Baking From My Home to Yours.

A couple months ago, I bought myself a copy of David Lebovitz's newest cookbook, Ready for Dessert.   I read through it after I got it, but have only made a few recipes from it so far, for chocolate cookies and caramel ice cream.  But I knew it had a lot of fruit desserts, so I pulled it off the shelf and took a look.  In the first section (cakes), I found a recipe for Spiced Plum Streusel Cake with Toffee Glaze.  In the introduction to the recipe, David says, "This cake combines everything I crave: tangy plums, toffee with a bit of salt, and buttery cake."  I stopped searching right then.  Sounds good to me!

The streusel consists of sliced almonds, brown sugar and spices, with a bit of flour and some melted butter to hold everything together.  I don't usually have almonds on hand, so I went with some pecans that were in my freezer.  The spices (both in the streusel and the cake) are cinnamon and cardamom.  I don't use cardamom nearly enough, so I was glad to try it in this recipe.  The cake batter is made with the creaming method--butter and sugar are beaten together until fluffy, then eggs are added.  Finally, the dry ingredients (AP flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamom) are added, alternating with some buttermilk.  (I left out the vanilla extract by accident, but used vanilla sugar, so it was okay.)  The batter is spread into a 9-inch springform pan and slices of plums are pressed into it. Then the streusel is scattered on top.  My cake took 50 minutes to bake.

It was late when I made my cake, so I let it cool overnight and added the toffee glaze the next morning.  The glaze is made by melting together butter, dark brown sugar, heavy cream and a bit of salt.  The mixture is brought to a boil and simmered for a minute, then allowed to cool to room temperature.  The glaze seems thin at first, but thickens as it cools.  Once it's cooled, a bit of vanilla is added, then it's drizzled over the cake.

The verdict?  Well, the cake barely survived 24 hours, so that should be a good indication of how much everyone liked it. =)  Knowing that fruit desserts don't keep that well and not wanting to try to eat it all at home, I took the cake to work with me.  Only about a third of it survived to go home again, and we polished that off pretty quickly.  One of my employees commented that this cake might just be the best thing I've ever brought in.  So it's safe to say that this cake is a new favorite.  While it was excellent with the plums, I suspect it will be delicious with other stone fruits as well.  Next up, peaches! (That version of the cake is in the oven as I type.)

If you'd like to try this cake for yourself, I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of Ready for Dessert.  Edited to add: I did find the recipe on Google Books, here.  (Don't forget to check your local library if you want to try before you buy!)  I look forward to making and reviewing more recipes from it.


  1. Plums and toffee! Love it - and need to get my copy off the shelf! I can see why it didn't pass teh 24 hour mark. I just passed on plums at the store tonight (bad call) - will have to go back so I can make this - it looks wonderful!

  2. Di...this looks amazing!!! And I just got some plums, too! I may have to make this one ASAP!

  3. This looks so delicious. I love plums and cake, so the combination would be heavenly, not to mention the beautiful topping. Great pictures!

  4. You know I am working in a grocery bakery. Our chef made some sorbet with a fruit that is a combo of a pomegranate and a plum. It was very tasty and tart. Yes indeed from the looks of things at your house I can see why there was little to none left. Beautiful and I'm sure delicious. I love summer fruits. I like that you are multi-posting.... he he kinda like multi-tasking. get it. JK

  5. This looks amazing! I love plums and cardamom together and have a cake I make every fall--it's an annual tradition. I have got to give this one a try soon!

  6. I recently got this book. I'll have to try this recipe. Your cake looks very beautiful.

  7. Looks like a winner! I recently got that book too and I'm glad to hear this recipe was great. It sure looks fantastic.