Stone fruits are wonderful to bake with, whether you are using nectarines, peaches, apricots or any other favorites. Plums are one fruit that I find to be slightly underutilized when it comes to stone fruit baking. This could be because plums are so delicious on their own that people rarely have enough to bake with sitting around in their kitchen, or it could be a simple oversight. Plums have a rich sweetness that is fantastic in desserts like this Fresh Plum and Almond Cake.
This cake was inspired by a recipe I saw in an issue of Sunset magazine recently, which used apricots and pluots in an almond-enriched cake batter. The unusual thing about that recipe was that it called for the batter to be baked in a tart pan, rather than a cake pan. The tart pan gives the cake a unique look and makes for wide, attractive slices that are loaded with fruit. I love the look of the finished dessert and will definitely use this trick again for similar desserts in the future.
The cake is soft and tender, with a wonderful almond flavor that really pairs well with the sweet plums. I never peel plums when I use them in baking because their skins give off lots of color, giving the fruit (and the cake surrounding it) a wonderful purple-pink color. Plums also have very thin skin that remains very tender after baking, so you will probably not even notice it as you are eating the cake. I topped mine with a generous sprinkle of coarse sugar that added a bit of crunch to the cake. A sprinkle of slivered almonds would also be a nice touch here.
Because it is packed with fresh fruit, this cake is best on the day that it is baked. I recommend baking it in the early afternoon and serving it in the evening, if possible. The cake should be served at room temperature, but it is ok if it is still very slightly warm when you slice into it. The reason that the cake is best on the day that it is baked is that the plums continue to give off juice even after the cake has come out of the oven. Not only will the fruit sink slightly over time, the cake will become slightly soggy. That said, the cake will still be very enjoyable a day or two after it has been baked, but it is at its most presentable when it is at its freshest.
Fresh Plum and Almond Cake
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Amaretto liqueur (or 1/4 tsp almond extract)
1/2 cup milk
5 ripe plums, pitted and cut into 6 slices each
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-inch tart pan and set it on a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract and Amaretto. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk, then stir in the remaining flour mixture until no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible.
Pour batter into prepared tart pan and spread into an even layer with a spatula. Arrange plums evenly over the batter, pressing them lightly into the batter. Sprinkle coarse sugar generously over the top of the cake and plums.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until cake is set in the center and springs back when lightly pressed. Cake will be darker around the edges than in the center.
Allow cake to cool to room temperature in the pan before slicing.