Showing posts with label plum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plum. Show all posts

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Plum sponge slices

This was my attempt to recreate one of my all time favourite cakes – the plum slice I had in the Fortress cafe in Salzburg

The cake is a sponge base topped with a cream cheese concoction and sliced plums.  The recipe I was going to follow used a fat free sponge.  I am totally willing to accept it is me, but I hate fat free sponges.  Not because they’re fat free (ok, maybe a tiny bit because of that) but because they taste so eggy.  Is it me?  Have I had bad examples?  What’s the secret to making a fat free sponge which doesn’t taste like scrambled eggs?  Teach me!

Anyway, I used my standard cupcake sponge recipe instead and it worked well.  When I looked back at my Salzburg photos, I think they used a similar type of sponge too so I felt vindicated!

The tang of the cream cheese with the fruit and the sponge is a heavenly combination.  There is no sugar in the cream cheese topping other than the jam.  The apricot jam worked well but next time I might try to match the jam to the fruit on top – I think that would be nice. 

You will notice that my plums aren’t submerged in the topping (oo-er.  It’s impossible to refer to plums without sniggering – maybe this is a British thing?).  This is because I thought that, in using tinned plums, there wouldn’t be a need to stew them first and they would break down in the oven.  As we can all see...they didn’t.  It had no effect on the flavour but does look a little curious.  Next time I would cook them a bit to soften them up.


For the plums:
250g fresh plums, halved and stoned
50g golden caster sugar
100ml boiling water


250g tinned plums in syrup, halved and stoned

For the sponge:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
1 tablespoon milk

For the cream cheese:
200g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
3 tablespoons apricot jam


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

Grease a 30cm x 20cm traybake tin.  I used a disposable foil one.

Start with the plums: if you’re using fresh stew them with the sugar and water for 5-10 minutes or until the plums are soft.  Leave to cool in the syrup.

If you’re using tinned plums, put the plums, along with their syrup in a saucepan and just warm through enough to soften them. (I didn’t do this, which is why mine are sitting proud out of the looks a bit silly, but didn’t change the flavour)

Now make the sponge: beat together the butter and sugar until soft and whippy.

Beat in the vanilla.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Fold in the flour and the milk.

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean.  Don’t overbake as the tin will be returned to the oven later.

Put the sponge to one side to cool.

Now make the cream cheese layer: beat together the cream cheese and apricot jam until smooth and runny.

Spread over the sponge and sit the plum halves, skin side down, in the cheese.

Spoon over about 3 tablespoons of the syrup.

Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the top has taken on a light golden colour.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Serve in squares, with thick cream.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


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.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Plum and vanilla custard tart

Plums and custard are a great combination as they provide a perfect balance of sweet and sharp.

I think this tart looks effortlessly elegant – it’s amazing the difference arranging the plums cut side up makes. It’s the sort of thing you’d see in a patisserie sold in miserly thin slices. So make one yourself and have some proper sized pieces!

Buttery pastry and custard are true comfort foods and just so easy to eat. Why can’t I feel that way about celery?

Mmmmm, buttery pastry:

I am now heading off to Zurich on a work trip so will get around to reading all your blogs a little later than usual this week. This will sustain me for the journey:

For the shortcrust pastry:
175g plain flour
120g unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 egg yolks

For the filling:
6 medium plums, halved and stoned
6 tablespoons caster sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
284ml single cream

How to make:

- Start by making the pastry: put the flour, butter and icing sugar into the food processor and blitz until you get fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolk and blitz until the pastry just starts to come together.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together into a ball of dough, handling no more than is absolutely necessary.
- Here’s where I differ to most pastry recipes; I roll the dough out straight away between two sheets of baking paper and use to line a 24cm loose bottomed flan tin (no need to grease as the pastry is extremely buttery).
- Leave any overhanging pastry.
- Chill the pastry once the tin is lined i.e. not before rolling out. The reason for this is that rolling out chilled pastry is hard work and it cracks. Rolling it when it’s soft gives a much cleaner finish and is easier. Chill the pastry for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Line the chilled pastry with a sheet of baking paper and cover with baking beans.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- While the pastry is baking make the filling: start by preparing the plums then sprinkling 1 tablespoon of caster sugar over them.
- Lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla then whisk in the remaining 5 tablespoons of sugar and finally the cream.
- Remove the cooked pastry and trim off any excess.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/315°F/Gas mark 3.
- Arrange the plum halves cut side up in the pastry case.
- Carefully pour in the cream mixture, taking care not to dislodge any of the plums.
- Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes or until the custard is set. Mine actually took quite a bit more at almost an hour.
- Leave to cool completely in the tin, on a wire rack.
- Serve with thick cream.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Winter plum cake

I’ve never really “got” Nigella Lawson – all that hair flicking and coy pouting at the camera clearly isn’t targeted at me, but I suspect the woman knows her stuff where cake is concerned – and respect to her for that! Having just got round to buying her “How to be a domestic goddess” book (about 8 years behind everyone else – hey, what can I say? I’m tough to win over!) this recipe leapt out at me as I adore anything with plums and almonds.

Here it is fresh from the oven:

The cake has a very pleasing rustic/farmhouse sort of look to it:

The cake can be served two ways: firstly, the way I have served it here, as a warm dessert with custard, or secondly, cold with icing. If there is a more delicious sight than gorgeous sponge smothered in vanilla custard then I’m yet to see it!

This is the first plum cake I have made where the plums are chopped and mixed through the cake – normally they are halved and laid on top. I rather liked this twist as it made the cake juicy and every bite guaranteed some plum! I always think that plums are the greatest success of the tinned fruit world and chopped up they look almost jewell-like:

The cake is exceptionally moist and light. I made it the day before I wanted it, and then reheated it in the oven; even after being heated twice it was so light it tasted more like a steamed sponge. For a cake that is almost embarrassingly easy to make it certainly got a warm reception – everyone came back for seconds and we demolished the whole thing between us: a sure-fire sign of success! (and, perhaps, gluttony)

Just look at these pictures as proof of the beautiful texture:

Come to mama!

For the cake:
567g tin of red plums
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g light brown sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
75g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the icing (if serving cold):
160g golden icing sugar (use ordinary if you cannot find)
1-2 tablespoons hot water

If serving as a warm dessert: custard

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.
- Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake tin.
- Drain the plums, then chop and leave in a sieve to drain further.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Weigh out the flour.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour each time.
- Beat in the almond extract.
- Fold in the rest of the flour along with the almonds and baking powder.
- Fold in the plums.
- Spoon into the cake tin and bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. Check it after an hour. Mine took exactly one hour.
- If you are serving warm as a dessert you can either serve straightaway or let cool and then gently warm when required (as long as you store the cold cake in an airtight tin you should be ok for at least a couple of days).
- If you are making the icing simply mix the icing sugar and water until you have a thick, smooth, glossy icing. Then spoon over the top of the cool cake.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Plum, almond and ricotta cake

This could very well be the moment I attain ‘nirvana’ in cake. Imagine a cake that has the lightness of the most beautiful sponge yet the richness and depth of flavour of a cheesecake and the moistness of the most wonderful friand . Then imagine that it has a layer of sweet jam and is topped by juicy caramelised plums. Then imagine that you don’t have to imagine it because it’s real!

There are no words to describe the loveliness of this cake. It looks beautiful, tastes beautiful and is ridiculously easy to make. It takes longer to assemble in the tin than it does to actually make the batter.

Any soft fruit would work in this cake - apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums – and I think it’s important to match the jam to the fruit. I happen to love plums and had a jar of homemade damson jam that provided a lovely match.

Don’t put the jam right to the edge as you want the cake to bake around it and enclose it. You don’t need to be too fussy about spreading it – blob it on:

Then cover with the remaining batter:

Any cake that looks this beautiful going into the oven is going to be a winner:

As it cooks, the sugar sprinkled on the top caramelises the fruit and makes a glorious topping:

This is what I believe is called a “serving suggestion”:

250g ricotta cheese
140g unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
225g golden caster sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the top
250g self raising flour
200g ground almonds
4 tablespoons of plum/damson jam
1 tin of plums (There were 11 in the tin of which I used 7), stoned and cut into quarters
Handful of flaked almonds

To serve: lightly whipped cream. I used Chantilly cream.

How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Line a 23cm round cake tin. I used a one piece liner as it saves having to grease the tin.
- Beat together the ricotta, melted butter, eggs and sugar until well combined.
- Fold in the flour and ground almonds. You will have a very thick, heavy batter.
- Spoon half the batter into the tin and even out.
- Blob the jam over the batter trying not to go right to the edge (it’s nice if the cake encloses the jam so it’s a lovely surprise when the cake is cut).
- Spoon the rest of the batter over the jam and, using a knife, even the surface.
- Arrange the plum quarters on top of the batter.
- Scatter over the flaked almonds.
- Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the top and then bake for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine took 1 hour and 25 minutes. The cake will have risen and the sugar should have caramelised the fruit. The fruit will shrivel a little but this is where all the delicious flavour comes from!
- Let the cake cool for 20 minutes or so before removing from the tin and letting cool completely on a wire rack.
- If desired, dust with icing sugar before serving. Personally, I don’t think it needs it.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.