Sugar plum fairy

August 29, 2007

The pickup: The Culinate backyard sports a gazebo, a holly bush, a very dead fir tree, and a very alive Italian plum tree. Seldom (if ever) pruned, this last bit of greenery is currently sagging under the weight of hundreds of plums. The small fruits are chalky until you pick one, rub the bloom away, and eat the fruit underneath: bluish-purple on the outside, greenish-yellow on the inside.

We’ve been watching the fruit for weeks now, waiting for the plums to transition from slightly too firm and tart to just soft enough and sweet. Impatient, we decided to hurry the poky plums along with the aid of refined sugar and an oven.

Martha’s plum cake.

The results: Everybody and every book, it seems, has a recipe for plum cake. Most are variations on the arrange-plums-in-a-batter dish; the batter bakes up around the plums and makes colorful patterns. We tried a recipe from the current issue of Martha Stewart Living and one from a friend’s mom. The verdict? The Martha cake was both prettier and easier to whip up, but the friend cake was (thanks to all the extra butter involved) sweeter and richer.

So, if you happen to have a loaded plum tree nearby, pick a few armfuls and freeze some. Bake the first cake now, for a lighter (and faster) summer dessert. Then come fall, bake the second cake for a denser, more autumnal treat.

There is 1 comment on this item
Add a comment
1. by Liz Crain on Sep 6, 2007 at 12:52 PM PDT

I can’t wait to make these. We have an Italian plum tree in our side year that has really good fruits this year. Thanks for the recipes.

Add a comment

Think before you type

Culinate welcomes comments that are on-topic, clean, and courteous. For the benefit of the community we reserve the right to delete comments that contain advertising, personal attacks, profanity, or which are thinly disguised attempts to promote another website.

Please enter your comment

Format: Bare URLs are automatically linked; use this style: [ "place text to be linked here"] for prettier links. You may specify *bold* or _italic_ text. No HTML please.

Please identify yourself

Not a member? Sign up!

Please prove that you’re not a computer

Culinate 8

Kale in the raw

Eight versions of kale salad

Eight ways to spin everyone’s favorite salad.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice