Archive for September, 2013

NYT Plum Torte

September 27, 2013
NYT Plum Torte

NYT Plum Torte

In fruit growing areas prune plums hang bountifully, often ignored, while elegant peaches, pears and apples take center stage. The prune plum season is fleeting and their rich often undiscovered sweetness underlies their somber purple skin. When you see these plums mounded in September farmers’ markets, be sure to purchase a pound or two and treat yourself to an old world plum torte.

This recipe, first published in The New York Times decades ago, keeps reappearing in different guises. It’s the basic butter, sugar, egg, flour, thick cake mixture thinly spread, topped with halved or quartered prune plums and baked for enough time to melt the fruit and caramelize a substantial crust. I’ve adapted the recipe so it’s the perfect fit for an 8-inch square cake pan; with a square sheet of baking parchment, the cake is up and out of the pan with one lift.

It’s ideal for a coffee cake, and simple enough to pop in the oven for a weekend brunch when you have time to give it 45 minutes to bake. Before all the Italian plums go off to become prunes, try the plum torte.

NYT Plum Torte

3 oz. unsalted butter (6 tablespoons)
4 oz. sugar (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 extra large egg
3 ½ oz. all purpose flour (¾ cup dipped and leveled)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
9-12 prune plums halved, pitted and quartered
½ teaspoon cinnamon + 1 tablespoon sugar

Cut a 12-inch square of baking parchment. Place an 8-inch square pan in the middle and cut diagonally in from each corner to the edge of the pan. Center the paper inside the baking pan and overlap the cut flaps to make straight edges and a square paper pan liner. Or butter and flour the baking pan. Preheat oven to 400º.

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in egg and salt. Sift over and mix in the flour and baking powder. Dollop thick batter over bottom of prepared baking pan and use back of spoon to spread batter to thin, even layer. Place quartered plums close together in rows up and down the cake batter. Mix cinnamon, sugar and sprinkle over plums. Bake for 40–45 minutes or until plums are soft and cake is nicely browned. Hint: for a nice bottom crust that turns this cake almost into a fruit tart, bake on top of a preheated pizza stone.

Mary Jo's Cookbook is available at Amazon

Mary Jo’s Cookbook is available at Amazon