I walked into Butera Grocery store yesterday morning, and was greeted by piles of jewel-like plums–some ruby red, some sapphire blue, and was reminded that this is plum season. Since I’m nuts about fresh peaches, nectarine, and cherries, I sometimes forget about plums, but they can be delicious, and are wonderful in kuchens and crumbles. I bought several pounds of purple plums and was soon back home rooting around in my recipe file. It took me awhile, but I found a recipe book called “The Best of Land O’Lakes,” that featured a simple crumb cake made with canned apricots. Substituting fresh plums for the apricots yielded a delicious, jammy, plummy, buttery, crumbly desert, and here I offer the recipe. How many will this serve? It depends. It will serve six polite people, but only three impolite, plum-loving people, or even just two plum-crazy people, so know your crowd.
CAKE2 large plums 1-1/4 cups flour 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter, softened 2 eggs 1 teaspoon baking powder TOPPING 1/3 cup sugar 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon GLAZE 1/2 cup powdered sugar 2 to 3 teaspoons water 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Slice each plum into 8 pieces. In a large bowl, combine all cake ingredients and beat until well mixed. (Be sure that the butter is well softened in order to do this.) Spread into a buttered 8-inch round Pyrex dish, or a 9-inch metal baking pan. (Bake at 350 degrees if using a metal pan.) The batter will be stiff, but that’s okay. Press the sliced plums down into the batter.
For the topping, melt the butter in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add the other topping ingredients and mix well. This mixture will be moist, not dry. Spoon topping over the plums. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Mix the powdered sugar, water, and vanilla to a consistency good for drizzling, and drizzle over warm crumb cake.
The Something for (Almost) Nothing factor here is that this is an inexpensive dessert made with basic ingredients, and in which you can substitute different seasonal fruits at will, including canned fruit (use 16-ounce can of drained fruit). With the powdered sugar glaze, it looks like a bakery dessert, but no fancy pastry chef skills are needed. Just be sure to soften the butter completely. Also, don’t overbake–the 35 to 40 minute baking time should do it. Let’s hear it for plums!