Saturday, August 2, 2008
I am the queen of procrastination. I have several assignments due by noon tomorrow for my immunology masters course, and instead of working on them (I haven't even started), I'm making, and then blogging about making, and then eating, plum cake! Some time tonight I will freak out that I'm never going to get it all done, dinner won't get made (that's OK - there's still vibrant yellow soup in the fridge), and L will once again ask why I do this to myself. But for now, I'm gonna enjoy my cake!
My local farmstand always has these adorable cherry-sized baby plums around the beginning of june. They're so jewel like, with shiny colorful skins in their little woven baskets, that I'm always compelled to buy them. Problem is, I don't actually like plums that much for out-of-hand eating. So they decorate my counter until they're super soft, then I finally decide to make something with them. Last year, I made plum sherbet popsicles, which were good, but not outstanding. This year, I tried a plum cake. Not the usual halve-the-plums-and-let-them-dimple-the-top-of-your-cake kind, but rather an uber moist treasure-trove loaf studded magnificently with bits of plum and toffee. Oh what a cake! Large, meltingly soft crumbs full of flavor, with a crunchy crust at the edges! It makes me happy, very happy! This is so much better than doing homework!
Plum Loaf Cake
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup Splenda (my attempt to feel better about eating even more cake this week - feel free to sub sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
zest of one small lime
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 pint very ripe cherry-sized plums, pitted and separated into small pieces (skins on)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup vanilla yogurt (full or lowfat)
2/3 cup Skor toffee bits
coarse turbinado or other raw sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a large loaf pan (preferably nonstick).
Cream together butter, sugar and splenda. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one. Add extracts, zest and cardamom and stir to blend. Add in plums. Don't be worried if they get mashed to a pulp when you blend them in. Sift together remaining dry ingredients. Add 1/3 dry ingredients, then 1/3 cup yogurt, then the second third of dry ingredient, the rest of the yogurt, and finally add in toffee and remaining dry ingredients. Mix until just combined (don't overmix!) The batter should be just a little on the dry side of a normal cake batter.
Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Serve warm as is or with caramel sauce and powdered sugar or a little vanilla ice cream.