Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dark Plum and Spice Cake

I'm feeling sad, irritable and generally discontent. Our babe has been in and out of the hospital, the tomato plants aren't bearing fruit and I can't catch up with the clutter around here. I don't see enough of my friends and I haven't done any summer baking or preserving. I could stand to get a lot more exercise. I might get laid off.

But, our babe is 4 months old, a happy, cooing, kicking, smiley guy. My man and I spend quite a bit of time dancing in the kitchen, teasing each other, swatting each other, smooching. The summer is warm and predictably sunny, even if my mood is not.

Fall is in the air today, and I have five plums softening on the counter. Is there anything better for lifting one's spirits than handling ripe stone fruit in August? Might as well make a plum cake.

 This is inspired by Molly's plum cake at Orangette and what I had in the pantry. This cake is dense and moist but not heavy; the tartness of the plums plays nicely with the molasses and cinnamon. The next time I make it (and I will be making another one of these), I will play up the spice cake. Molly suggests quartering the plums and dropping them in at the end, but I wanted to display the fruit upside-down cake style.

Dark Plum and Spice Cake

5 plums
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches salt
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup agave & maple syrup
2 T honey
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Halve and pit the plums. Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper. Arrange the plums cut side down in the baking dish and set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

In a saucepan over low heat, stir the molasses, syrups, honey and butter until melted. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Measure 1 cup milk and whisk in the 2 eggs. (I use my pyrex liquid measuring cup for this and save myself a dirty bowl.)

Add the butter/sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the milk and eggs and stir until a loose batter forms. Pour over the plums arranged in the pan.

I followed Molly's instructions precisely here:
Bake for 35 minutes, then cover loosely with foil and bake 10-15 minutes more. The cake will still look soft, but that's ok. Turn the oven off, remove the foil, and leave the cake in there for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool in the pan for 20 minutes, and then I turned the cake out so the plums are on the top.

It doesn't need it, but this cake could be dressed up with some loose whipped cream.

PS Have you seen those Italian cooking plums at the market? I'm intrigued, although I don't think I've ever seen them used in real life or in a recipe. I imagine they are good with lamb... what do you like to do with them?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm back, it's fall. hi.

Things are changing around here. I'm not sure exactly in which ways, but I would like to learn to use my camera and write more about food. I'm trying to live with more intent and purpose, spending time on things that bring me pleasure or that spread joy.

I'm not one for resolutions in January, but when the light starts changing and the wind starts blowing at the end of summer, I take the urge to renew and reexamine seriously. This is such a bountiful time of year; I'm feeling sad. Must refocus.

It's easy to live simply when tomato smashed on toast with salt and olive oil, and maybe some cheese, is the most satisfying meal.

My mother sent this text to my phone the other day:

All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
fullness remains.
The Upanishads
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