Today's recipe has quite a bit of significance to me. Back in 2011, when I was in college in Chicago and only occasionally baking cupcakes and cakes from a box mix, and absolutely nothing from scratch, I discovered food blogs. I believe this was the time when food blogs, and any type of blog for that matter, were beginning to gain traction and it felt as if there was a new blog popping up on the internet daily. One of those blogs was Smitten Kitchen - a blog that is run by Deb Perelman that I still love and utilize to this day.
I randomly came across a recipe of Deb's, Strawberry Summer Cake, in the summer of 2011 when I was visiting Cleveland, Ohio and wanted to make something for the Fourth of July. The recipe looked innocent enough and I thought I'd give it a try, this being my first recipe baking from scratch without help from my mom, grandma, etc. Also, the house I was staying at had a beautiful, hunter green Kitchenaid stand mixer, and I was fortunately able to use it (this was also my first time using the machine). Needless to say, I made a bunch of mistakes while making the cake - I'm fairly certain I didn't use room temperature butter and got some eggshell in the batter that I had to fish out - BUT by some miracle, the cake ended up working out and tasted pretty good.
Even though I didn't really get into baking until I moved back home to California a year later, I'll never forget that day in Cleveland and how it sparked something within me; I will always fondly think of that as my "first" baking experience.
7 years later, I like to think that a lot has changed when it comes to making a simple fruit cake, and more over, my skills in the kitchen. But for whatever reason, I never attempted to remake that strawberry cake until this past weekend when it somehow popped up on my radar again. But even though the cake calls for strawberries, I thought I'd take this recipe and use it as a base for something that I wanted to create. So, I went grocery shopping and looked for a fruit substitute that is in season right now - lo and behold, I landed on plums.
Honestly, I can't tell you the last time I had eaten a red plum and I'm kind of kicking myself for not doing it sooner. I've always been more inclined to buying nectarines or peaches, but I gotta say that plums might be beating both of those right now. They are that good. And look at how beautiful they are!
Luckily for me, the plums worked out perfectly with the cake. To put my own spin on it, I added some spices that I knew would work well with the fruit (AKA I googled what pairs well with plums). I added cinnamon, ginger, and a little bit of nutmeg because it's what I had in my pantry and it turned out AMAZING. If ginger isn't your thing, you definitely can leave it out and just add more nutmeg or even add another spice in its place, like cardamom.
I feel like this cake can easily pass as a breakfast dish; I would just maybe stay away from adding confectioners' sugar and whipped cream, and maybe topping it with greek yogurt instead with fresh plums. That sounds perfect to me!
Simple Summer Plum Cake
Makes (1) 9" or 10" Cake
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup (any kind will work, including non-dairy - I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 pound plums (about 4-5), halved, pitted, and cut into about 8 wedges per plum
2 tbsp. turbinado sugar
Confectioners' sugar, whipped cream, and/or thinly sliced fresh plums, to finish
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan (or pie pan).
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar together, on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and milk and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
With the stand mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until smooth. The batter will be quite thick.
Evenly spread the batter into prepared pan. Arrange the plums in a single layer over the batter with the skin side up. Sprinkle the two tablespoons of turbinado sugar over the top.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for another 50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
If using a springform pan, run a knife around the edge of the pan and carefully remove the top. Allow the cake to cool completely on a rack before adding your topping of choice (confectioners' sugar, whipped cream, and/or thinly sliced fresh plums).