“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer”
It has come time to relive some summer memories. The sun is shining through my window, I have henna on my hands and I wish to give you a recipe that is as delicious as it is out of season, but hey. Save some for later. Put a bookmark on this page and come back to it months in the future, wondering what it was, that recipe that I was going to make but I didn’t have any fresh plums?
This one. Because although it kinda looks like you’re hiding them under crumble and over custard, these plums refuse to be silenced, and they sing a summer song from the refrigerator where you’ve stashed the last piece, wrapped in foil, covered in an opaque plastic container and shoved unceremoniously to the back because you’ve already eaten two rather large slices. I’m not kidding.
This cake is sunlight dappled through the trees, whistling an unidentifiable tune while skipping through them. This cake is stomping dance moves in bare feet on a grassy hill, twirling with your friends as the sun sets and the bonfire gets brighter, shedding layers as a butterfly sheds its cocoon. This cake is tea time on the back porch, having a breather in between moving loads from one house to a garage to wait, sleeping, for the rediscovery of your belongings. This cake is saying goodbye. And hello.
And goodbye again.
Plum Crumble Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
This is one of the last recipes I photographed with my little point and shoot, and also one of the last I made in my old house. Talk about memories!
I adapted this from Smitten Kitchen, where there were hazelnuts (mine were rotten when I bought them. Note to self: only buy nuts from somewhere they will have a high turnover) so I used almonds instead; this is, I think, part of the reason for my hesitancy to post straight away, as I’d just regaled you with tales of an almond plum tray bake. That and the fact that I was moving.
While this is named a cake in my book because it feels more like a cake than a tart, it does have crust and filling and topping, so it’s kind of a tart as well. It’s a take! Or a cart! See, not really.
Let’s just make it, yeah?
Crust and Crumble:
175gm cold butter, cut into small pieces, plus more to grease tin
1/3 cup (50g) almonds
1 ½ cups (190g) plain flour
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
450g firm but ripe plums (you can use a mixture if you like; I used some from my family’s tree, about 12 small ones)
1 tbsp plain flour
6 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs’
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup milk
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 180°Celsius. Line the bottom of a 9”springform pan with baking paper and grease the sides.
Place nuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it still has some chunky bits.Remove to the bowl of your electric mixer and add flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Mix together, then add butter and mix until the crumbs begin to stick together.
Reserve about 1 ½ cups of the mixture for the crumb topping and press the rest into the bottom and sides of the cake tin. It should come about halfway up the middle of the sides. Use more of the mixture if you need to, but make sure it doesn’t collect too much in the corner of the tin.
Bake about 15 minutes in your prepared oven (just until set), but keep an eye on it because it’s easy to burn the edges. Let rest about ten minutes, then gently press the slouching sides back up into place and put in the refrigerator to cool while you make the filling.
Quarter plums and remove the pits. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and sugar for the filling. Add eggs, cream, milk and cinnamon and whisk together. Add salt and a few gratings of fresh nutmeg and whisk.
Pile plums in prepared pan; pour custard over the top and scatter crumble mixture over the top of that. Bake 45-50 minutes, until custard has set and top is bubbling at the edges. Once again, watch out for burnt edges. Let cool at least half an hour before serving warm, or keep chilled in the fridge. Try not to eat it all at once.