September 1, 2017
This is one of America’s best-loved fall desserts. And for good reason. Originally published in the New York Times by Marion Burros, it has been tweaked by any number of people. Including me.
Prune plums have a short season, that begins now. Rather dull eaten out of hand, they positively sing when baked into this sweet fruity cake.
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 large or 20 small prune plums, pits removed, halved the long way
4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
Heat an oven to 350 degrees
Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with high sides. (You really do need the height; a spring form pan is a good option.) Butter the bottom and sides of the pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust the whole pan with flour.
Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy in a standing mixer for about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time and thoroughly combine after each addition. If the batter appears curdled, do not worry, it is because the eggs may be cooler than the rest of the mixture, and the butter hardened when the eggs were added. The batter will become smooth with the addition of the flour..
Beat in the the buttermilk or yogurt and add the vanilla and lemon zest, medium speed
Whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and salt, and add to the butter mixture until just combined.
Separate the halved plums into two equal piles.
Spoon half the batter into the pan and level the top with a small offset spatula.
Place the plums, cut side down on the batter, and sprinkle with two tablespoons brown sugar.
Spoon the rest of the mixture over the plums, and place the rest of the plums on top cut side up. Sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden.
Cool the cake on a rack for 5 minutes. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan.
Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert onto a plate, peel away the paper, and invert again onto a serving plate.
Best served warm but delicious at any temperature.