The strangely changeable weather we’ve had this summer has resulted in a bumper crop on my parents’ damson tree. The branches are heaving with so many damson plums that some are almost reaching down to the ground.
There is so much fruit that the damsons are clumping together and resemble giant bunches of grapes:
This cake came about because I couldn’t decide whether to make a sponge cake or a cheesecake. Of course, the answer was obvious – combine them so you get both! I’ve never really ‘got’ the concept of self deprivation.....
Each sponge layer is, in itself, an upside down cake – the damsons hide underneath the batter and become caramelised and sticky during baking. When the cakes are de-tinned, the damsons become the top of the cake.
Sandwiching a sponge with cheesecake is ridiculously decadent and I genuinely haven’t seen any other recipes that do it. My conclusion was that I am in a league of my own for self-indulgence!
I cannot recommend this recipe enough – the cheesecake filling works so well with the sponge and the flavours and textures of each seemed enhanced. Absolutely yummy!
Proving I can be as prone to arty photos as the next person, here’s the juice and sugar pooling in a damson half. Doesn’t it look pretty?
Hopefully by now, you’ve picked up on my ethos being “cake for all”. Some people in my family either don’t like (what can I say? Every family has a couple of ‘crazies’!), or can’t eat, cheesecake so I made another cake using the ingredients and method below but I made it all in one deep 20cm tin and omitted the cheesecake filling.
Here’s what I did: Placed all the damsons (they will form two tiers) in the bottom of the tin, made the batter and spread it over the damsons. Bake for approximately 35 minutes and serve in generous slices with whipped cream. Cake for all!
For the cake:
Approx 16 damson plums, or plums, washed, cut in half and de-stoned (damson plums are small – similar in size and shape to Victoria plums)
200g caster sugar, plus 2 extra tablespoons
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
For the filling:
1 vanilla pod
300g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
50g icing sugar
150ml double cream
300ml double cream, whipped
Preheat the oven to 190˚C/fan oven 170˚C/375˚F/Gas mark 5.
Line two 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tins with baking paper ensuring that the paper comes up above the height of the tin.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar in the bottom of each tin then arrange the damsons, cut side down, into the tin
Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Take your time over this stage and only move on when the mixture starts to resemble whipped cream – it will take 10 minutes or so.
Beat in the eggs one at a time; if it looks like the mixture might curdle add some of the flour.
Fold in the flour, baking powder and milk.
Spoon the mixture into the tins – taking care not to disturb the damsons - and level the surface.
Place the cake tins on a baking sheet then place in the oven. Normally I put my baking tins straight onto the oven shelf, but when the cake might leak juice I take an extra precaution!
Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the batter comes out cleanly. Mine took 40 minutes – I think the plums bubbling away with their juice under the batter means it takes longer!
Leave to cool in the tins until cool enough to de-tin; then leave to cool completely on a wire rack. The sponges can be made a day ahead of serving.
Now make the cheesecake filling, this can also be made a day ahead: Slice the vanilla pod in half and remove the seeds.
Place seeds in a bowl along with the cream cheese and icing sugar and beat until smooth and well combined.
Pour in the cream and beat until the mixture is completely combined.
Spoon into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate.
On the day of serving build the sponge: place one of the sponges on a plate, damsons on the top, and spread with the cheesecake filling (if the cheesecake filling is stiff beat it with a spoon until it softens enough to spread).
Place remaining sponge on top, also damsons on the top.
Refrigerate until serving – try to remember to take the cake from the fridge 20 minutes or so in advance of serving so the flavours can come through.
Serve with whipped cream.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.