Sundays with Dorie: Dimply plum cake

The weather here recently has been more November than June. According to my dad’s weekly weather reports, it’s been the same in Eastern Canada. So I wonder if it was this decidedly fall-like atmosphere that made Christie choose the lovely-looking Fig Cake for Fall as her first challenge recipe.

Unfortunately neither of us could procure the necessary figs, so we switched to her second choice, the slightly more summery Dimply Plum Cake. I couldn’t be happier with this choice; it was one of the first recipes in the book that caught my eye and I was thrilled to finally have an excuse to make it.

After the rhubarb cake earlier this week, this is yet another brown sugar coffee cake. You can’t really compare the two, though. While the rhubarb cake was characterized by its incredible moistness and very soft crumb, this cake is a little firmer, a little coarser – but just as yummy.

The flavours in this cake work beautifully together: the deep sweetness of the brown sugar, the spicy hint of cardamom, the fragrant orange zest and the slight tanginess of the plums. It’s also one of the cutest cakes going; the juicy, jewelled plums nestle cozily into the batter and wallow there happily, just begging to be eaten! And we did. Four of us devoured the whole thing (minus one teensy sliver) over afternoon tea and a game of Buzz.

Like the other coffee cake, this is really just a great base recipe waiting to be tinkered with. Come August I will definitely try it again with peaches. Dorie also suggests apricots or cherries – the possibilities really are endless. By switching up the spices and the fruit, this cake can happily make its way through the seasons.

I can’t wait to read what Christie thought of the recipe. Be sure to check out her post over at Coco Bean; resident photographer Ian is very talented, so a visual feast surely awaits!

Dimply Plum Cake
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

This makes a small 8-inch cake. Don’t even try to stretch the batter to fill a larger pan, as it won’t! I use less brown sugar than Dorie; if you like things really sweet, increase the amount by 1/4 cup.

1 1/2 cups (170 g) plain or all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
scant 1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbsp (70 g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 g) light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange
4 large plums or 6 to 8 small ones, cut in half and pitted

Preheat the oven to 350F / 176C. Grease and flour a round or square 8-inch cake pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cardamom.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and add the oil, vanilla and orange zest. Again on medium speed, beat the batter until it looks smooth and creamy. Reduce the speed to low and add in the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth it down with a spatula. Arrange the plums on the cake, cut side up, and press down slightly so they nestle into the batter. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean and the top is golden and puffy around the edges.

Cool on a wire rack. Once cool, the cake can be wrapped and stored for up to two days. It will supposedly get moister as time goes by, but I don’t know for sure because I didn’t keep mine around longer than two hours.