Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Plum Torte

Plum Torte // The Parsley Thief
My mother-in-law has been making this fruit torte for longer than I can remember. It's pretty much guaranteed that anytime we go over there for a meal, this will be one of the dessert offerings. She makes it with whatever seasonal fruit she has available. In the summer, she uses peaches, or plums, in the winter, she'll use apples. One of the reasons she makes this dessert so frequently is because it's always a hit with everyone...even my kids. Which is frankly quite shocking to me as they are not big peach, or plum lovers, especially when cooked. But this cake? They love it!
Italian Prune Plums
After seeing how much my family loved this torte, I finally asked her for the recipe. It's one of those classic, age old recipes that's probably been around almost as long as I have. It was originally published in the Elegant But Easy Cookbook by Marian Burros and Lois Levine, and after that it made it's way to the pages of the New York Times, where it became one of their most frequently requested recipes of all time. It was so popular that they printed it nearly every year from 1983 to 1995.
After some investigation, I learned that the original recipe was made using Italian prune plums. A few days after this discovery, what was staring right at me while browsing my local farmer's market? Italian prune plums! What are the chances? Kismet, I think.
Arrange Plums
Now that I've made it myself, I know what a breeze it is, which is probably another reason why my mother-in-law makes it so often...and when I say it's a breeze, it really is. We're talking one bowl, one pan, eight ingredients, and you're done.
I was unsure how it would turn out. I imagined mushy plums in the end, but I was mistaken, because the final torte was delicious, and not at all mushy. My husband and kids devoured the entire thing just as quickly as they would have if it had been made with apples, or peaches. Although, now that it's apple season, I'm dying to try this again with apples.
I was surprised to see cinnamon on the ingredient list, because to the best of my knowledge, I've never noticed cinnamon anytime my mother-in-law has served this. It's really an optional ingredient, and the quantity is flexible as well. You could use just a pinch, or as much as a teaspoon. I decided to use it, because I wanted to see how this torte turned out if I followed the exact recipe, but if I were to make this with Italian prune plums again, I might leave it out. But I think with apples, it would be perfect.
Plum Torte
The best thing about this cake is the texture. It's light, and not overly sweet, but the top is more like a crust, almost what I would call crispy. It keeps well too, so you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, or even freeze it. Who doesn't love a one bowl recipe that freezes well?
Now that Italian prune plums are in season and all over every market I've visited since baking this last week, you better get cooking. Enjoy!
Some other cake recipes you might enjoy - Clementine Cake | Wild Blueberry Buckle | Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Vanilla Bean Sauce

Plum Torte

{printable recipe}
Yields: 8 servings
Adapted from the Elegant But Easy Cookbook, by Marian Burros and Lois Levine
There's a reason this recipe was printed yearly in the New York Times for over ten years. It is because it's a quick, easy, and elegant dessert that can be made with any fruit you desire, in any season. A short ingredient list, one bowl, and one pan...it's the definition of simplicity. The cinnamon that tops off this cake is optional, and if used, you can opt for anywhere from a pinch to a teaspoon. I recommend it if you're using a fruit that is complimented by the addition of cinnamon, such as apples.

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 - 8 Italian prune plums, halved & pitted
ground cinnamon, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.

Cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, eggs, and salt, and beat until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and level it with a spatula. Cover the top with the plum halves, skin side up. Mix the cinnamon together with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the torte cool slightly before removing it from the pan. It can be served warm, or at room temperature.

Make ahead: This cake keeps well refrigerated for a few days, or even frozen. Cool completely, and wrap well in foil. Reheat in a 300˚ oven until heated through, about 20-30 minutes.


Joanne said...

You know it must be a winning recipe if your mother-in-law keeps repeating it AND your kids love it! WIN. I really don't bake enough with plums though I love this in cakes. I definitely see this in my future!

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