Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pull Out a Plum!

Brown Sugar and Spice Plum Cake
I firmly believe a few things should happen on everyone's birthday. First: Cocktails. Second: New outfit. Third: Any kind of birthday cake you want. I really enjoy making special birthday cakes for friends and figuring out exactly how to concoct the requested dessert. It's one of those little touches that can make a special day even sweeter. For Arin's birthday, the plan included a nice dinner with cocktails and the wearing of cute dresses (so the first and second requirements were easily fulfilled). For her cake, she requested a Plum Raisin Spice Cake and specifically: "With pink frosting and white writing." I didn't want to disappoint the birthday girl, but found in researching what exactly would go into a traditional (and frosted) a plum and raisin cake probably wasn't what she had in mind. Most recipes for plum cakes used baby food plums (weird) and raisin cakes meant re-hydrating raisins to make a sweet syrup topping. With so many fresh plums in season right now, it seemed a cardinal baking sin not to use them . . . so I ventured out on my own and came up with this moist upside down cake instead. The birthday girl was, in the end, pleased. After all, who needs frosting when there are such juicy plums to be had? Happy birthday, Arin!

- 1 lb. fresh plums, pitted and sliced thin into 1/2 moons
- 2 1/3 c. cake flour, sifted and then measured
- 1/4 plus 1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 2/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature butter (plus extra for buttering the pan)
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- juice and zest from 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 c. Greek yogurt (go with full fat on this one)
- powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Cut a circle of parchment paper that fits into the bottom of the pan, line it, and butter over the parchment paper. Arrange the plum slices in a concentric circle working from the outside of the pan inward. Sprinkle plums with half the lemon juice and then evenly sprinkle 1/4 c. granulated sugar over. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder. Set aside and prepare batter.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, remaining granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Allow the mixture to become light and fluffy. Add lemon juice and zest and mix again to combine. Alternate adding eggs (one at a time) and flour mixture in three portions at medium speed. Scrape down sides of bowl between additions. Add yogurt to mixture and fold in gently until ingredients are incorporated.

Pour batter into the springform pan over the plums, smoothing mixture over with a spatula. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the cake is cooked through and springy. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack in pan for 15-20 minutes before turning out.

Carefully run a knife around the sides of the springform pan to loosen cake. Unlatch the side and release, remove ring, and turn cake out onto a serving plate. Peel off parchment paper and allow cake to cool completely before serving.

Right before serving, dust plums with powdered sugar . . . if it's for a birthday add candles! Have fun!


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