Roasted Plum & Lemon Cake
Oh, I do have a treat for you today! A densely moist and richly flavored Roasted Plum and Lemon Cake to be precise. Since childhood, I’ve adored plums, ripe and sweet, ready to eat out of hand. I think it had to do with them being a “kid sized” fruit. Apples and peaches were always a little too hefty. It might also have been because my aunts would bring them as a treat that I got to eat at my grandma’s house. Everyone always loves anything they eat at grandma’s house, right? And then too, there was the fact that I loved to…err, um, maybe this is too weird to share. Oh what the heck! I loved to slowly suck away the plum flesh from the pit and keep the pit in my mouth for quite some time. Farm kid candy, I guess.
Weird childhood behaviors aside, I didn’t cross paths with a cooked plum until I was an adult. I have to say I preferred them raw still…until I tasted a roasted plum. Oh my. My oh my. Just as with anything roasted, plums take on a deeper sweetness, an aromatic allure, and any hints of spices you might add. In a word, they’re decadent. The juices get drawn out and mingle with the spices before everything softens and caramelizes just a tad. Put roasted plums on just about anything: ice cream, yogurt and homemade granola, cupcakes, French toast, waffles… But, really, first you must put them on this unbaked cake!
Lemon, while not typically a local fruit here in Pennsylvania (though it is possible), is the perfect companion to the roasted plums in this cake. The citrus cuts through the intensity of the plums and contributes to the color of the moist crumb. I have to tell you though that the real color agent in the cake I baked were the intense orange yolks of the local farm fresh brown eggs. Never underestimate the power of those fresh local eggs.
And while we’re on the subject of local farm products, find yourself a pint of local heavy whipping cream and flog it into soft peaks with just a touch of confectioners sugar or honey to adorn each slice of cake. Trust me, it’s both worth the effort to seek out a local creamery for the cream and the effort to whip your own as it takes this cake from decadent to downright divine!
ROASTED PLUMS & LEMON CAKE
A Straight from the Farm Original
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 C. orange juice (fresh is best)
1/2 C. raw sugar, some for roasting and some for sprinkling at the end
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cut the plums in half and remove the pit. Place them on a small roasting pan. Add the star anise, vanilla bean, orange juice. Toss with your hands to combine. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Place plums in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until tender and aromatic. Serve plums warm or chilled over just about any baked good or ice cream. For the cake recipe below, cut plums into thin wedges and set aside.
1 T. lemon zest
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp
3 eggs at room temp
3/4 t. vanilla extract
1 C. all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 T. milk
1 batch of roasted plums (see above)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a shallow large tart pan (mine was 12″) or large loaf pan with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
Wash and dry the lemons. Zest them and then juice them, setting both aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon zest to the mixture and combine well. Add the lemon juice and mixing just until combined. The lemon juice will react with the baking powder to add air into the batter so be gentle from here on out so as to avoid deflating the batter too much.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and grated nutmeg. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix carefully just until combined. Add milk and gently fold in until evenly distributed. Pour into prepared pan. Lay roasted plum slices along the top of the cake batter.
Place in oven and bake until golden and the cake springs back when pressed with a finger, about 35 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing. Serve with a generous dollop of sweetened whipped cream.