So a couple weeks ago, the last of the green plums came through the farmer's market. I, of course, searched out a table of bruised rejects, bought a massive bag, and took them home with a vague eye toward baking.
A few days later, I produced this cake.
I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I now never want to make any other cake ever again. I've had the recipe sitting around in a huge binder of various internet-sourced recipes for approximately eight to ten years. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO MAKE IT??
Let's get things straight. At our house, pie wins over cake. We don't eat cake, and certainly not layered, decorated, befrostinged monsters. At past office parties with gross storebought sheet cake, I always scraped the frosting layer completely off my dry, cottony, hydrongenated piece (although I was too cheap not to eat any cake at all). My birthday and John's are three days apart, and yet we don't even make one birthday cake to split. We know we would each only eat one sliver, then leave the rest of the cake to rot. No cake.
So the fact that I was considering making a cake at all was...different. It's not as though I couldn't have made a plum pie, or a tart. Hell, storebought puff pastry would've been just fine. But no: I wanted cake. Dense, damp, British teatimey cake. Plums sunk into thick wheaty batter sounded pretty good to me.
Shockingly, the actual blog post in which I found this is still up. Seriously? It's from 2002! I think I'm going to write out my variation here anyway, just in case the original site vanishes and we all cry.
Plum Cake (or Plum Torte, I guess)
1/2 c unsalted butter
3/4 c sugar (turbinado, for excellent crystalline crunchy bits)
1 c flour (wheat, above all things, for a serious grain-tasting teacake)
1 tsp baking powder
6-8 plums, depending on the size of your pan
sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon (I think I left the cinnamon out)
pan: I used an 11x7 inch pyrex casserole dish.
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar; add the flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs; mix. I used a handheld mixer for optimal mixing, but a big wooden spoon should work fine. Spread the finished batter into a cake pan of your choice. I believe I buttered my pan, but that was about it.
Now it is time to cut up plums. Halve and pit them; if they're big, cut them further into quarters or sixths. Press the plums, cut side down, into the batter, covering as much of the cake surface as possible. Sprinkle the whole business with some sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon, and stick it in the oven.
Bake for one hour, or until the cake surface is nicely crested with brown, the edges have pulled slightly away from the edge of the pan, and the plums have sunk and shriveled into the batter. Voila:
Now, ok. This is not the most impressive-looking cake. However, we've established that frosting and extensive decorating are pretty negative aspects of a cake, yes? This business ignores visuals and goes straight to the punch. Instead of being pretty, it is delicious, with a dense, damp, fruit-ridden interior, and a sugary, crunchy, sweet, brown crust.
Let cool for as long as you can stand, and then eat a slab with a big mug of black tea. In the morning, you can have some more for breakfast.