Sunday, 23 August 2009

Plum, chocolate and hazelnut cake

I’ve have made plum tarts before, and no doubt will again before the season is over, but this recipe struck me as something highly original – teaming plums with chocolate isn’t a combination that leaps to mind but goodness me, does it work!

I think the key is to go as bitter as you dare with the chocolate. The rich, dark bitterness compliments the juicy, sweet acidity of the plums to create deliciousness! The chocolate isn’t immediately obvious but gives an extra something to the flavours.

The plums I used are damson plums. Most people I talk to don’t realise that some damsons can be eaten like plums. Damsons seem to get a bad press as acidic, tart and inedible without turning into jam. My damsons came from the tree in my parents’ garden and are as sweet as any Victoria plum.

Perhaps it’s sentimental but I always think that the damson tree’s bounteous crop is its way of thanking us for saving it. Many, many years ago (possibly over 20) I went to garden centre and there, in the reduced-to-clear section, was a rather pathetic looking twig in a pot. The label stated it was a damson plum tree but such a grand declaration didn’t really match the look of it. It was the only tree in the bargain section and seemed rather forlorn; for reasons I can’t explain it tugged at my heartstrings so I bought it – even though it was in the sale it was expensive (to me, at the time) for a twig. The tree grew steadily but it took several years for any crop to appear, but when it did – oh wow! Year after year we are rewarded with pounds of delicious, juicy, sweet damsons – we give away bagfuls to friends and neighbours, we make jam, pies, cakes, we leave the high fruits for the birds and still we have pounds of damsons!

When I started telling you the story of the damson tree I didn’t realise I would reach anything like a moral ending, but I suppose the moral of this story is that just because you start out as a twig in a pot in the sale section needn’t mean you can’t turn into a beautiful tree producing wonderful fruit! Here endeth today’s lesson….normal flippant service will be resumed shortly….


500g plums (I used damsons)
175g light muscovado sugar, plus 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on top
175g unsalted butter
175g self raising flour
175g ground hazelnuts (if you can’t find these simply place chopped or whole hazelnuts into the food processor and blitz until ground)
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
50g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa), chopped
2 tbsp hazelnuts

To serve: thick cream


- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

- Line the base of a 20cm round springform cake tin with baking paper.

- Halve and stone 4-5 of the plums depending on their size and set aside for later.

- Chop the remaining plums – not too small, you want to know they’re there in the cake.

- Place the sugar, butter, flour, ground hazelnuts, eggs and baking powder into a bowl and beat until smooth and well combined. It will take a few minutes.

- Stir in the chopped plums and chocolate.

- Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Arrange the retained plum halves over the top and gently press them just into the cake mix.

- Scatter over the whole hazelnuts.

- Sprinkle over 2 tablespoons sugar.

- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out cleanly. Mine took 55 minutes

- Cool in the tin, on a wire rack, until you can handle the tin to turn the cake out. Leave to cool completely. Because this is a squidgy cake it might sink a little on cooling – don’t worry, it will still taste juicy and divine.

- Serve with thickly whipped cream or, if serving as a dessert, pouring cream or ice cream.

- Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

- Eat.


silverpebble said...

You deserve to bask in glory. This looks like an absolute winner.

Katie said...

Another fab looks cake. I love damsons too, they make a great jam. I love the sound of all the flavours you used in the cake. Your cakes always come out so lovely and tall/deep

Beth said...

I didn't realise there were some damsons you could eat. Cake sounds amazing - great flavour combo

Sam said...

I discovered the chocolate/plum combination when I visited Poland, you can buy chocolate covered plums there, they are really good!

I've just been given a bucketful of damsons so this delicious looking recipe couldn't have come at a better time for me! It looks beautiful.

Margaret said...

We don't see damsons enough these days and they are stunning fruits. Although, fair to say I saw tree after tree of them at RHS Wisley a couple of weeks ago.
Beautiful cake, as ever.

Cakelaw said...

hat a truly delicious looking cake - I love the fact that it is so hihg. And you have been well rewarded for rescuing the "twig" - what lovely plums!

C said...

That looks deliciously moist - pity I can't do nuts. I like the idea of using plums and chocolate together though.

I'm sure that the spindly twig is rewarding your kindness of heart! I was really disappointed when my parents moved house, leaving behind a lovely damson/plum (we never really knew what it was) behind, just as it had started producing serious fruit.

glamah16 said...

What an ususual flavor combo. Im game to try it. Love all the favors, so combined it must be heave, Perfect segue into fall.