Cake to feed your Soul

I had some leftover plums from my rumtopf adventure, so I let them ripen up for a few days.  They sure were pretty, in the middle of our oak dining table, in an ochre bowl from Provence, basking in the golden early Autumn sunlight.  When it turned chilly a week ago, I was wearing my grey wool scarf and draped it near the plums to lend some warmth and a soft, deep earthy tone.

A couple of days ago, I decided to make a plum cake to take into work in celebration of our Indian Summer.  Yep, it was about 23°C/73°F with wall to wall sunshine today.  And will continue like this for the next few days apparently.  Well, I wished for an Indian Summer a couple of weeks ago when I made my Liberty print skirt and my wish has come true!

This glorious cake (from BBC Good Food) looks like something in a French pâtisserie, but is actually quite simple to make.

Glazed Plum Cake

  • 200g softened butter , plus extra for greasing
  • 8 red or purple plums
  • 140g golden caster sugar , plus 1 extra tbsp
  • 3 eggs , lightly beaten
  • grated zest 1 large lemon
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 85g blanched, lightly toasted almonds , chopped (the pieces should be quite big)
  • 6 heaped tbsp redcurrant or plum jelly

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

While the oven is heating up, put the almonds in the oven to gently toast.    (I always prefer to toast my nuts before adding them to batter.  It adds a subtle depth of flavour).  Set a timer for about 10 to 15 minutes in case you waft off.

Butter a 23 or 24cm springform tin, line the base with greaseproof paper and butter the paper.   Slice and stone the plums.  (I find this a good method to deal with not too ripe plums.  If I sixth the plum, then twist it, the slices just fall into my hands.)

Beat butter and sugar (minus the extra tbsp) until pale. Beat in eggs, then zest. With mixer on low, beat in flour and milk. Stir in almonds and spoon into the tin.

Lay the plum slices on top of the batter, overlapping them in circles.

Sprinkle with the extra sugar and bake for 55 mins-1 hr. I usually set the timer for half the allotted time, have a peek and then cover it with foil or parchment paper so it doesn’t brown up too fast.  Then I take it off for the final 5 minutes.  Let it cool in the tin for 15 mins.  Remove cake from tin and stand on a rack.

In a small pan, melt the jelly and 2 tbsp water until reduced to a syrupy glaze, about 5 mins. (I had some leftover redcurrant jelly from making Chicken Casserole in Red Wine with Mushrooms a fortnight ago.)

Brush the melted jelly all over the cake. It will seem like a lot, but a thick glaze looks good and tastes amazing.   In fact when I took this cake into work today, folks weren’t entirely sure what kind of fruit it was, the sweet-tart plums twizzled delightfully with the sweet-tart red currant jelly.  But everyone sure did enjoy it.

Leave to set before serving.  I was thinking it would be good with Chantilly cream, clotted cream or vanilla ice cream, but people seemed to like it just the way it was.  Pure and simple and unadorned.

You know, these beautiful Indian Summer days begin cupped in the morning-misty shrouded dawn and draw to a close, cradled into night by a chillish dusk.  Autumn is gathering us into her embrace, so we need to feast our Souls on the last of the Summer Harvest – and let it go and turn to face the darker days of Autumn and Winter, finding our sustenance within and our warmth at Home.


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