Rustic Plum Cake

Rustic Plum CakeI’m surprised that my kids don’t just love eating plums. I love them, and I remember loving them when I was little, too. But, my kids don’t. So, I yesterday many, many Italian plums from a big basket I bought at the farmer’s market that were starting to wrinkle, and the only solution, of course, was to make them into a cake. This recipe I’m just a fan of–of course, the almond meal and almond extract make it delightful, and I love the color that the plums seep into the cake. Incidentally, I have also used non-Italian plums in this recipe. I adapted it (just a little!) from the 2009 America’s Test Kitchen Annual. 

Rustic Plum Cake

2 T. red currant jelly or seedless raspberry (I used a Cherry, Raspberry, Rhubarb jam)
1 lb prune plums halved and pitted (about 10-12)
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. almond meal (which you can now buy at Costco! Hooray!)
3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
6 T. butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. almond extract

Melt jelly in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until just loosened and bubbling. Add the plums face down and cook until they shed juices and thick syrup is formed (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool while assembling the cake.

Grease and flour a 9″ springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix almond meal and sugar until combined (in a food processor or by hand). Add flour, salt and baking powder and pulse or whisk to combine. Add the butter, and mix until batter resembles coarse sand (I usually do this by hand, also!). Finally add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and process until the mixture comes together, but the batter will be thick.

Spread the batter in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the plum halves skin side down on the surface of the batter.

Bake until cake is golden brown and wooden skewer comes out clean, about 40-50 min. Allow cake to cool in pan on wire rack for 30 min. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

626-52_choco_zucchini_cake_300This cake has become a favorite this season, after Henry, my son, grew his first zucchini (in our neighbor’s garden, I should add. Our patch did not do so well). He wanted to eat the zucchini, but frankly hates the vegetable, so I made this for him instead. He loved the cake, but suggested we just call it “Chocolate Cake,” because calling it “Zucchini Chocolate Cake” freaks him out. This recipe comes from May 2004 Saveur. It’s not a difficult recipe, even though the first step is a bit unusual (but makes for a great cake), just make sure to allow for quite a long baking time. 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 medium zucchini, trimmed and
grated on large holes of box grater
9 T. butter, at room temperature
2 3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. corn oil
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar

1. Working in batches, put a small mound of zucchini in center of large square of double-layer cheesecloth. Gather corners together and squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer zucchini to a bowl and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 325º. Butter a deep 9″ cake pan with 1 tbsp. of the butter. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together into a mixing bowl and set aside. Beat together remaining 8 tbsp. butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes.

3. Add oil, beating well. Beat in one egg at a time, add vanilla, reduce speed to low, and beat in flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 alternate batches. Stir in reserved zucchini.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to let cool. Invert onto a plate and dust with sugar.