Friday, 2 September 2011

Autumn Plum Crunch Cake

I love Autumn baking. Plums, apples and pears and their natural association with spices and nuts suits my style of baking much more than trying to use the delicate summer berries. Those are best eaten as simply as possible and are often spoiled by cooking into cakes, I feel. Heavier cakes, packed with fruit and nuts, are also more in tune with the cooling days

This cake is very similar in outcome to Dan Lepard's Stone Fruit Yogurt Cake, but it wasn't quite as successful. My main mistake was to misunderstand the nature of the topping - I thought it was a syrup drizzle, but I think it was supposed to be more of an icing, to help stick down the crunchy sugar topping.  I cut down the sugar to make a drizzle to soak in and also added more fruit to the batter, which I think would have been OK without the extra fruit juice soak. The combination of the two was just too much moisture, and resulted in a soggy cake - fine for a dessert, but not good for a cake. The batter was also too thin to support the slices of fruit on top, and these sank into the sponge as it cooked. This might have been down to the size of my eggs, so I think I'd leave out the orange juice next time, if using large eggs.

The flavour was lovely, but the overall concept needs more work, although FB says she has made the cake with more visual success than I had - meaning the plum slices stayed on top! It would have been far too sweet for my tastes if I had used all the sugar in the topping, so I'm glad I did cut that down! I think making Dan's cake with plums and orange zest would be a better option, especially if you sliced the plums neatly to look good when the cake was turned out.

The recipe comes from the Good Food publication '101 Cakes and Bakes' but unfortunately isn't available on the Good Food website.

140g softened butter
140g golden caster sugar (I used 110g caster sugar and 30g light muscovado sugar)
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
pinch salt
140g SR flour
the finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
200g plums, destoned, half cut into wedges, half roughly chopped (I used 4 large plums which weighed in at 350g; 200g looked a totally inadequate amount for a good flavour)

200g caster sugar (I used only 70g)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
 4 or 5 brown sugar cubes, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 160C and prepare a 2lb loaf tin.
Lightly beat the eggs and the egg yolk with a pinch of salt
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, adding a little of the flour if the mixture looks like curdling.
Fold in the rest of the flour with the orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice.
Gently mix in the chopped fruit.
Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and spread evenly.
Scatter the plum wedges on top.
Bake for about 50 minutes until firm and golden ( mine took 60 minutes to cook!)
Cool for ten minutes in the tin.

At this point the original method turned out the cake onto a wire rack, and poured over a topping made by mixing the 200g caster sugar with the lemon juice and the rest of the orange juice, then sprinkling over the crushed sugar cubes. I left the cake in the tin, pricked the top with a cocktail stick and poured over the topping I had made with less sugar, before sprinkling over the crushed sugar pieces. I then left the cake to cool in the tin and soak up the juices.


Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I love autumn style baking too. Fruits and nuts are such great ingredients! This cake looks divine! I love its golden colour

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

what a lovely cake... I will steal this for the tea room... we've so many plumbs I think we may explode!

Suelle said...

Hi Dom - if you want to try the recipe I recommend trying it the original way first, so that it's not too moist, and making the batter a little drier so you get some plum slices staying on the surface - I used large eggs, but think medium ones would be better.

PS - did you see I'd nominated you for the 7 links project? See my earlier post on the subject:

Nicola said...

That looks delicious, I also love baking in the Autumn, especially with plums, pears & apples :-)

Katie said...

It may not have been completely what you were after but it looks delicious. Lovely and moist, the kind of cake that tastes great eaten with fingers or with a bit of custard.

Chele said...

I agree with Katie, may not have been exactly what you thought it would be but wow it looks amazing. Love the flavour too.

C said...

I know what you mean about autumn baking - and especially if you use nuts too, all the pairings seem perfect. And apple cakes too - yum!

I've been meaning to try this cake for years and years - when the magazine was first published (2001) I didn't have a clue where to get the posh sugar cubes they recommended, but now, whenever I see them in Waitrose I think of this cake.... I must try it in its original form - I like moist cakes, but not wet so will take heed of your advice!

Phil in the Kitchen said...

This sounds a really good cake - sorry it didn't work exactly as you wanted. As it happens I bought some plums to bake a cake - but my wife ate them. Oh well, maybe I'll try again.

Maggie said...

I have problems with fresh fruit in cakes and have overcome this by switching my oven to a fan setting from my usual conventional cooking setting, and it seems to give me a more successful result.
I love the recipe and the cake looks lovely.

celia said...'s a worry when our kids start baking better than we do, Suelle! :)

Even though they sank, the plums look so pretty embedded into the cake!