Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Plum (Pear) Kuchen

I have never really considered myself a slacker, until now. About a month ago was the last night I wrote a blog post, around that time I also made this cake for the next blog post. It has taken me until now to share it. Pathetic, I know. I feel pretty terrible about the whole thing, not because there are so many readers out there dying to see what's next (there aren't), but because I pride myself on my ability to maintain this blog no matter how much other stuff I have going on. However, as my friends' favorite t-shirt reads, 'Shit Happens.' Right on.
The only issue with the whole waiting period is that this cake was much more seasonal when I first made it (I have a solution, be patient). When plums were at their peak, my house was chockful of them in all shapes and size; and what started off as an innocent evening at home one Friday turned into a full-blown plum tasting. Yes, for real. "The yellow sugar plums are definitely the sweetest, but a little mushy." "I must tell you, I like the texture of the Italian blue ones best." The best and worst part about this is that's it's not the first time a Friday night has turned into this kind of 'event' and I assure you it certainly won't be the last.
plum cake recipe
But back to the cake. This cake was a product of the aforementioned abundance of plums and a year-long desire to make a yeasted kuchen that I had seen in Gourmet a year prior. So I made it, but when it came out a leaden brick of underwhelming plum-ish cake, I went back to the drawing board (aka Epicurious). Round two proved exceedingly more successful turning out a super plum-y coffee cake. The kind of cake whose insides are practically wet from all the fruit juice and whose outside has a crack-like crispy cinnamon-sugar topping. This is the kind of cake that I end up eating way too much of because I keep going back and forth between the two parts trying to decide what to 'end with.' That decision process takes a lot cake. Oops. I am planning on remaking it and the timing could not be better, truly. All those beautiful pears popping up in the markets right now would be perfect for this cake, maybe even better than plums. I loved my plum cake, but few things can ever surpass the buttery sweetness of pears.*
plum cake recipe
*This is how I have justified my slacking, by telling you that you're better off making it now that pears are around. The excuse you can take or leave, but make the cake.

Plum (or Pear) Kuchen
(adapted from Epicurious)

This recipe calls for 5 large plums, I would use the same amount of pears because I like my cakes heavy on the fruit, if you prefer a higher cake to fruit ratio use only 4. Also, it's still early-ish in the pear season so definitely use an early season pear like a Bartlett.

This recipe is usually made in a square pan, but I used a round, because I don't have a square baking pan.

This cake is easy to overcook because of all the fruit it is hard to tell if a cake tester comes out clean. I cooked mine 45 minutes 'just in case' and it was verging on overcooked. I suggest touching the cake to tell if it's ready, if it springs back, take it out.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream

5 large plums, halved, pitted, each cut into 8 wedges

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Sift flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and salt into small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 6 tablespoons butter with 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then extracts. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with sour cream in 2 additions. Spread batter in pan.
2) Arrange plum wedges on their sides concentrically atop batter. Mix 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle over plums. Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Drizzle over kuchen.
3) Bake kuchen until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool until just warm, about 30 minutes, or to room temperature. Cut into 4 lengthwise strips. Cut each strip crosswise into thirds.


Anonymous said...

Frenchie, I was missing your blog, thanks for being back

Anonymous said...

Great post! I’m looking to make some changes in my own eating habits and learning to cook, so I appreciate your insight a lot! Thank you. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I did yours and I thought your readers may appreciate it: http://burisonthecouch.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/food-for-thought/

I’ve started to look for blog help more regularly and I think I’m going to add your blog to my list as well. Thanks for the post!