Staring at a basket of fully ripened prune plums on my counter, I decided to make the same cake I had successfully baked a few weeks earlier. A prune cake, which is as lovely as the book the recipe appears in, Menus from the Orchard Table. Gifted to me following a quick jaunt to the Okanagan Valley, this appealing cookbook visits the Okanagan’s farm to table movement and burgeoning wine industry through the eyes of Heidi Noble of Joie Farm. Well-tested recipes and enticing photos feature the riches of the valley. I promise a Ladle & Lens post about the Okanagan later.
Back to the cake and Rosie. It was a gorgeous day on the mighty Willamette and our boat held her own. As the sole rowboat entry the past two years, we have been rowing against the clock which makes sense in a field of dragon boats, crew shells, kayaks, and outriggers. Rosie is a heavier , less streamlined vessel for racing than these other boats, which puts us at a disadvantage competing head to head, even with our proficient crew. We hope another Rosie-type skiff will be on the water this time next year to give us some friendly competition. Meanwhile we bask alone in the compliments we receive from other Row For The Cure participants on how pretty our boat is. We are proud to tell people we built Rosie ourselves and point out they too, could build a boat under the tutelage of Peter Crim at The Wind and Oar Boat School. A post on Rosie and The Wind and Oar Boat School is yet to come.
And the cake? It was a yummy aftermath to a successful row, shared by our crew and faithful entourage. Plus it provided some immediate energy to those of our group rowing back to Rosie’s mooring slot.
This simple cake can be a coffee cake by morning, a tea cake in the afternoon or a dessert cake in the evening. Take your pick.
It may be past the season of prune plums now but maybe not. I am posting the recipe regardless. Check your local market. I’ll check again today when I am out and about.
from MENUS from an ORCHARD TABLE by Heidi Noble
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
20 fresh prune plums, halved and pitted
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice ( fresh lime juice or orange juice also work just fine)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ springform pan. (or a regular 9″ cake pan)
With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla, incorporating well. In a smaller bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed ingredients, mixing as you go. Pour or spoon the stiff batter evenly into the pan.
Now comes the fun part. “Stand the prune halves on their long sides in a circle next to, but not touching, the edges of the pan. Push them down into the batter.” (You will see the prunes. They are not hidden.) Repeat with another circle inside the first, and then another small circle within that one until you have used all the prunes. Spritz the top of the cake with the lemon juice and then sprinkle with the mixed cinnamon and sugar.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about an hour. When done, the cake will lightly spring to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove the ring if using a springform pan. If using a regular cake pan, go ahead and cut and serve slices from the pan. (Or if you choose, turn the cake out of the pan and flip it plum side up for presentation on a platter.)
Though I think the cake is perfectly acceptable the way it is, feel free to accessorize with a dusting of powdered sugar or serve slices with a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream…or even ice cream if serving the cake warm out of the oven.