This recipe is an adaptation of the Fresh Plum Cake recipe in The Baking Bites Cookbook (a great gift for Mother’s Day, to all you last-minute shoppers!). It is a very simple cake, with a vanilla-scented cake batter supporting lots of fresh, juicy plums. It is beautiful to look at (you’ll have to check out the photo in the book), too. But as I’ve always said, it never hurts to mix things up a little bit, so I decided to make a chocolate variation on that cake.This cake is meant to showcase fresh plums, so even though the cake is chocolate, it only has a light chocolate flavor to it and doesn’t overpower the fruit at all. In fact, the cake tastes richer and more complex where it meets with the plums and has fruit juice running into it. I like the way that this cake rises up well around the plums during baking for a lovely presentation to the finished cake. I always sprinkle the top of this cake with a bit of coarse sugar before putting it into the oven. It adds a little bit of extra sweetness to the fruit, and a hint of crunch to the top of the cake.
The plums look fantastic when you slice into them because I leave the skins on in this recipe. Plums have very thin skins that are not tough after baking. Leaving the skins on allows a brilliant purple-red color to stain the otherwise pale peach-colored flesh of the plums. For an even more vibrant color, look for plums that have a naturally red flesh and use them in this cake instead!
Chocolate Plum Cake
5 ripe medium plums
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
1 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Make sure there is overhang over the sides of the pan.
Halve the plums and remove the pits.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light. Beat in cocoa powder, followed by egg and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth. Blend in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Add in half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the rest of the milk, then add the last of the flour mixture. Stir only until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Batter will be fairly thick.
Spread batter into the prepared pan. Arrange 8 of the plum halves around the outside of the pan, and place two at the center, pressing the plums cut side-up into the batter. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool completely in the pan, then lift the cake out (using the aluminum foil) to transfer it to a plate before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container.