Not like, the gross, heavy, holiday fruit cake of December-times. But a delicious, light, buttery tea cake dotted with fruit (plums, usually).
Once again, this comes from attempting to use up the CSA's bounty--in this case the fruit share of the CSA. The problem here, really, is that the man I married doesn't like warm or cooked fruit. Because . . . um . . . Ugh, forget it. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW ANYONE COULD NOT LIKE FRUIT DESSERTS. Specific kinds of fruit? Sure, not a problem. Hate on cherries all you want or whatever. But ALL FRUIT desserts? Ugh.
AND YET I NOT ONLY MARRIED HIM, BUT STAYED MARRIED TO HIM FOR A FREAKING DECADE.
And of course, the biggest little is ALSO not a fan of the fruit desserts. I am holding out hope for the little one, still.
We had a ton of plums coming our way from the CSA, as per usual. The biggest little won't eat them straight, and the littlest little only wanted whole plums (which, since these were the tiny sugar plums are like large cherries, with stones. All kinds of choking hazards), and then would only take one bite. Sigh.
I ate a bunch, I gave a ton to our sitter, and then I did what I always do when faced with a cooking dilemma: searched Smitten Kitchen for "plums". Let me tell you, Deb knows her cooked fruit desserts (BECAUSE SHE IS A SANE MEMBER OF SOCIETY, AHEM, FAMILY MEMBERS WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS. Also one day I will post about the apple cake recipe from smitten kitchen, which SHOCKINGLY, JBB will eat). Because what I wound up making was this, purple plum torte.
Originally published in the New York Times by Marion Burros, and then republished by popular demand in the fantastic and highly recommended New York Times Essential Cookbook (affiliate link), edited by the talented Amanda Hesser of Food52 amazingness, it's essentially a very simple butter tea cake (lighter than a pound cake), with halved plums popped on top and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. The plums sink, the cake rises, and you wind up with a delicious fruit-studded cake that is addictive, moist, and keeps REALLY well.
Plus, to better to suit my needs? The amount of fruit is adaptable and the recipe is easily memorized. I am nothing if not lazy. Too lazy to even look up a recipe more than once.
And then. AND THEN. Apricots showed up. A lot of them. And I was flummoxed. Because while I love dried apricots, they are not my most favorite fruit to eat out of hand. The littlest little out and out rejected it with a big fat "NO," and a stomping off. I'm not a big jam maker, and while we did have a lot of apricots, we didn't quite have enough to warrant that sort of project. And so they sat for a few days, slowing growing riper and riper, edging toward overripe. And if no one would eat them, they'd be wasted.
And so, with little left to lose, I figured I'd mess with perfection, and tweak the plum cake recipe. Cause really, cake plus stone fruit, right? I mean, I could imagine the cake with berries or peaches super easily. Why not apricots?
But it called for a few more tweaks. First, I was almost out of sugar, having made the cake a few times. I did, however, have some leftover maple sugar that just wasn't getting used up. Maple sugar to me often feels a bit sweeter than the equivalent amount of granulated sugar, so I eased off of the amount slightly.
Second, my previous plum cake was still cooling, and occupying my springform pan, so another pan needed to be found. 9" cake pan, lined with foil. Did I mention the cake freezes beautifully after baking, when wrapped in tin foil and popped into a ziploc? I was going to wrap the sucker up in the foil ANYWAY, so why not line the pan with it first, to make it easier to yank that sucker out of a regular cake pan and have the wrapping all ready to go right there?
(Yes, I did make two of these cakes one right after the other. I had to finish up the rest of the plums, the mixer was out, and the butter was already softened and room temp and I'm not about let THAT go to waste you monsters. Plus the littlest little yelled at me because there was no cake and damnit, he wanted CAKE. And trains. And shiny things. And OOOH! A car! A car! I digress...)
The process for the cake is quite simple, and though I used a kitchenaid, you don't need to use a mixer for it if you don't have one. Just be sure your butter is room temp, to make things easier on your mixin' arm while creaming the sugar and butter.
First, the butter and sugar(s) are creamed together until light and fluffy. Because the maple sugar is a bit grainer and slower to dissolve than regular granulated sugar, I followed a tip I picked up from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, and let the mixer go for a bit longer than normal to really allow the sugar to fully incorporate and dissolve into the butter.
While the mixer is creaming things, measure out your dry ingredients--flour, baking powder and a giant pinch of salt. I always like to measure my flour with a kitchen scale because a) it's more accurate, b) it's a ton easier to just scoop into a container that's easy to pour from until you hit a number on the scale, c) if you are measuring more than one thing, all you need to do is tare/zero out the scale, and continue measuring ALL IN THE SAME BOWL. Once again, it all comes down to laziness. I weighed my dry ingredients into a glass measuring cup (which DO NOT measure dry ingredients with a measuring cup for liquids, you will be WAY off the amounts. Unless you're using a scale), gave it a stir with a fork instead of sifting or whisking.
Add your eggs to the butter and sugar, mix until incorporated, dump in the dry ingredients and stir just til mixed. Dump batter into the pan, and arrange the fruit on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar--I used vanilla sugar cause why not?-- and a bit of lemon juice and into the oven it goes for 45 minutes or so. Less than 15 minutes prep from the start of cutting the fruit. My kind of cake.
The actual recipe with amounts and the like is here:
Maple Apricot Tea Cake
a variation on the famous plum cake. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, The New York Times Essential Cookbook, and others.
- 1 cup (125 g.) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 BIG pinch salt
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, or 1 stick) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1-2 teaspoons for sprinkling
- 1/4 cup maple sugar (brown sugar would also be great here--if using brown or white sugar, increase amount to 1/2 cup)
- 2 eggs
- 8-12 small apricots, halved and pitted. Or a little less than 1 pound fruit, halved.
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fetch a 9" springform pan, or if desired line a 9" pan (springform, per recipe, or regular cake pan) with foil. If using a regular cake pan, LINE THE PAN or you won't be able to get the cake out nicely. I sprayed with baking spray, just in case, but it's not necessary.
In a small bowl (or large measuring cup--see above) stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a mixer, cream the softened butter and granulated and maple sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Lower the speed, and add in the eggs, mixing to incorporate.
Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Give the batter a stir by hand, and scrape into prepared pan, smoothing the top. Set the halved fruit, skin side up, on top of the batter. Sprinkle the fruit with the cinnamon, then the reserved 1-2 tsp of sugar (if your fruit is tart or not fully ripe, use the larger amount), and then sprinkle the lemon juice on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Aim for batter, not fruit when testing. Let cool completely in the pan, then remove.
Better the second day, keeps well covered at room temp. To freeze, wrap with foil and place in a gallon ziploc bag.