Making use of the bumper harvest of British plums

September 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

A story on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today earlier in the week about this year’s bumper harvest of British plums prompted me to seek out some plums at the weekend and bake this fantastic upside-down plum cake from Aussie chef Bill Granger’s book “Bill’s Food”.

I really like Bill’s take on food, so much so that I have five of his books now and invariably the recipe I’m searching for is in the fifth book I look in.  The recipes are fresh and uncomplicated and, unlike some glossy cookbook authors I might mention (yes I mean you Nigella and Nigel) all the recipes I have tried have worked first time.

Bill’s trick of using a frying pan in which to bake this cake is a neat one and I bet it would work just as well for a Tarte Tatin so I can cross off  that Le Creuset Tarte Tatin tin from my wish list now and save valuable space in my kitchen.

Recipe for upside-down plum cake

Ingredients

Caramelised plums
1 lb 14 oz (850g) plums
1 3/4 oz (50g) butter, softened
4 oz (115g) caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cake
3 1/2 oz (100g) butter
8 oz (225g) caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 1/2 oz (155g) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt (optional – especially as Bill specifies unsalted butter in this recipe whereas I invariably use slightly salted butter for most things)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F/Gas 4).  Use a sharp knife to slice the cheeks from the plums and discard the stones.  To make the caramel, melt the butter in an ovenproof (ie not one with a plastic or wooden handle) 28cm (11 inch) frying pan over low heat.  Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until dissolved.  Increase the heat and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until golden and caramelised.  Transfer the plums to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes.

To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.  Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt over the mixture and beat until smooth.  Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until stiff (using an electric whisk for speed).  Fold into the cake mixture with a metal spoon.  Spoon over the plums in the pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave to rest for a minute or so before carefully turning out and serving with cream or crème fraîche.

Serves 10-12

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