Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Warmly Spiced Plum Cake
If you need a cake for afternoon tea, or just as a stand-by in the cupboard, this one couldn't be easier.  It can be served in slices (as below) or in thicker wedges with a little plum compote and cream on the side - perfect as a pudding!  In this case I've added plums, but almost any seasonal fruit could be substituted.  It tastes soft and almost autumnal - and fills the house with such a warm comforting aroma it's worth making it as a room fragrancer!

2 large eggs
100g butter (softened)
100g caster (or superfine) sugar
130g plain (or all purpose) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1/2 nutmeg - grated (or about 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg)
3 dessert plums - 1 sliced into 8 segments, the other chopped
2 tsps "coffee sugar"** granules, or a couple of sugar cubes broken in a mortar and pestle.

  1. Preheat your oven to 160 C / 350 F.
  2. Either grease and flour a large loaf tin, or use a pre-formed loaf tin liner.
  3. You can use a free standing mixer or a large bowl and wooden spoon.  Either way the order of ingredients is the same.  For a mixer:  using the paddle attachment, place the softened butter, sugar and eggs in the bowl of the mixer.  Stir on low to combine, then switch up to medium and beat for 2 minutes.  Switch off the mixer.  Add the flour all in one batch with the baking powder and spices.  Beat very slowly to combine, then give it a burst on medium to ensure it's really well mixed.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer, stir in the chopped plums then turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin.  Level the top of the cake then hollow it slightly (and only slightly) in the centre.  Arrange the slices of plum in a line down the centre of the cake.  Sprinkle over the sugar granules, then bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 35 minutes - it may take a few minutes longer depending on your oven.
  5. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
If you're planning to keep this cake for a few days wrap it in greaseproof (parchment) paper then foil.  I find that it keeps quite happily for up to 5 days if wrapped carefully.
** Coffee sugar is like a Demerara sugar but the crystals are bigger.  They don't melt into the cake batter during cooking which gives the crust a lovely crunchy texture.  If you can't get coffee sugar just place a couple of sugar cubes (brown preferably) in a mortar and pestle and give them a bit of a bash!

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