Monday, August 2, 2010

All figured out

I’m obsessed with discovering The Perfect Way to serve each fruit that comes into season. It’s ongoing, this obsession of mine. I experiment and tweak, toss, and research. My goal is to have The Perfect Way (or two or three) all figured out for when each fruit hits its peak. That way I'll be prepared to get the most bang for my buck. Or flavor for my fruit.

I’ve got tomatoes down pat: they belong, completely and totally, in bread pudding. Think it sounds old-fashioned and stodgy? Well, it's not. With roasted tomatoes and bread cubes and garlic, eggs and cream and Fontina, it's anything but. In fact, I dare you—no, I double-dog dare you—to make it and tell me I'm wrong.

Other tomato favorites include Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Valerie’s Salsa, and then there’s a salad I haven’t told you about yet. I’ll get to it, promise. But maybe not till next year. Now don’t panic! If it’s truly good it will stand the test of time. You wouldn’t want to know about it if it didn’t, right?

For nectarines, there’s this tart. I made it with peaches, but I really think it’s best with nectarines—prettier and more flavorful.

Sweet cherries belong in this ice cream. Don’t argue with me about this.

Strawberries go in this pie and in this salad, sour cherries in this crumble, apricots in this cake, rhubarb in this cake, and red raspberries in this pie (or this cake).

Then come plums. I’m still working on them—they don't frequent my kitchen all that often—but I found a cake that I think might fit the bill.


The recipe comes from Deb. I’ve learned to trust her recipes, and if her recipe, heaven forbid, isn’t exactly right, then there are boatloads of comments that add suggestions and tweaks. Her blog is A Most Excellent Resource.

Anyway, this plum cake came from her. At first I thought it was too simple, nothing outstanding or flashy about it. In fact, Mr. Handsome, bless his dear, ogrish heart, took one bite and said, “It has no flavor.”

"Pooh on you," I retorted.

But then after a couple pieces he was forced to amend (with no coercion on my part) his earlier statement. “It's actually pretty good,” he murmured. (And just so you know, the cake has plenty of flavor, in a gentle sort of way.)


As for the kids, they fell on it like piranas (or like their mother had been feeding them weird Indian food all week), and the whole cake disappeared in a flash. So maybe it is flashy after all.


The cake consists of a simple cake batter topped with slices of juicy plum and then sprinkled with a crumb topping. The bottom part tasted part-cake, part-cookie, the fruit was juicy-sweet (and gorgeous, to boot), and the crumb topping was just what crumb toppings are supposed to be—crumbly. You can leave the topping off, if you like, but I liked the additional rich, sugary crunch. You know me.

By the way, fruits that are still haven't made it into The Perfect Way category include peaches (believe it or not) and blueberries (though I have several strong contenders), so if you have any good leads, please pass them on. I’m on a mission.


Dimply Plum Cake
Adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen

5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
zest of 1 orange
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4-8 juicy plums, depending on size, halved (and sliced, if large) and pitted
crumb topping (see below for recipe), optional
whipped cream, for serving, optional

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and beat well. Beat in the oil, zest, and vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Gently beat the dry ingredients into the wet.

Pour the batter into a greased, square 9-inch pan. Arrange the plum halves/slices on top of the batter, cut-side facing up. Sprinkle with the crumb topping and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature (with whipped cream and coffee).

Crumb Topping
From Mennonite Country-Style Recipes by Esther H. Shank

A jar of these crumbs were just hanging out in the freezer, waiting to sprinkled. I keep these on hand for crumb pies or the crumb topping for muffins, though truth be told, I don't make crumb-topped muffins all that often. This recipe will make enough topping for 4 or 5 pies.

3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

Using your fingers, mix all the ingredients together till sandy-crumbly. Store in jars in the freezer.

This same time, years previous: I'm back and Tomato Bread Pudding

7 comments:

  1. for peaches AND blueberries, use the Fresh Strawberry Pie recipe in Simply in Season (the option at the bottom lists peaches - throw in a handful of blueberries too). Use the shortbread tart crust. I'm going to blog about this when I get a good photo of it.

    We also adore Peach Kuchen from More with Less - chilled in summer, warm in winter.

    I tend to like blueberries in combination with other fruits if you're talking desserts.

    I agree with you on the apricot cake! It's fantastic.

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  2. I'm so drooling over your cake! It looks amazing!

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  3. Blueberry buckle is our favorite. Also pw's blueberry muffins. But of course I've healthinized them. Use mostly whole wheat flour and cut back on sugars and such. You wouldn't want to, I'm guessing.

    would sugar plums work in this cake?

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  4. You're a marvel. I just copy recipes from Real Simple.

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  5. Goodness, opinionated much? I am not sure you could sway me on the tomatoes in bread pudding. I might try it. No promises, though.

    The plum cake looks like the plum kuchen my mother made in Germany. Fabulous simplicity and taste!

    Blueberries? Oh, so many choices, how can you narrow it down to just one or three? Dropped by fresh handfuls over my morning granola, swirled into muffins, folded into pancake batter, baked into scones, dressed up in cupcakes? Oh, just check my blog if you need ideas!

    Popsicle molds - go to ebay. Tons available.

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  6. I loved this post but there is no way I could go for the tomatoes in bread pudding concoction.

    As for peaches, I made a grilled peach and basil cornbread muffin which we quite liked and I also really luck a good old fashioned peach cobbler.

    Blueberries are fabulous in a salad with cucumbers, feta or even made into a syrup which can be drizzled on ice cream or into yogurt. I was also thinking of making a cookie with blueberries but I'm not sure how that would work out.

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  7. I just noticed someone mentioned about popsicle molds. I just found the most wonderful one at a garage sale.
    ProgressiveInternational PLP-1freezer pop maker Available at Amazon. No more tipsy Tupperware molds to carefully balance in the freezer. It works like a charm. Although the lid is a bit of a joke.

    Aunt V.

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