Friday, October 19, 2012

Company Plum Cake

To say I’ve been making this outstanding cake for 40 years is not an exaggeration: I love that it’s simple and small. I’ve modified the recipe from its original appearance in a long-defunct (but excellent) publication called Weekend Magazine. There, I avidly read Canadian home economist Margo Oliver’s recipes from my early teens (in the Jurassic Age), until the publication folded in the late 1970s. 

I never knew the late Margo Oliver, but she taught me how to cook through the many recipes she tested and published. I regret that I never took the time to drop her a note to say so and thank her. I would move heaven and earth to find her recipe for Hot Water Sponge Cake, but (as happens in life) the binder in which I kept it disappeared without a trace.

Long one of my favorite recipes, Oliver’s Company Plum Cake is a gem that I’m more than happy to share with you! Follow these steps in precisely the order given. Making the Streusel Topping before you make the cake will prevent the egg whites and baking powder in the cake from losing their rising power. As always with cake-making, ensure all ingredients are at room temperature.

Company Plum Cake:

To Prepare the Streusel Topping for the Cake:

½ c. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. butter or margarine, softened

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon until thoroughly mixed. Using  a fork, cut in butter or margarine until well-mixed and crumbly. Set aside.

To Prepare the Cake:

¼ c. butter or margarine, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1-½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ c. milk
15 prune plums, halved and pitted

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. (see Note). Spray-grease 9x9-in. cake pan. Cream butter and sugar until no grainy texture remains when you rub creamed mixture between thumb and index finger. Add egg yolks, continuing to beat well. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture into butter-egg mixture in alternate thirds with milk. In another bowl, whip egg whites until stiff, gently folding into batter. 

Pour batter into pie dish, smoothing with spatula. Place halved prune plums lightly onto batter. Sprinkle Streusel Topping over plums. Bake 45-to-50 min. Best served warm. Serves 8.

Note: If using an ovenproof glass baking dish, preheat oven to 325 deg. F.

To Glaze the Plums:

¾ c. icing sugar, sifted (“confectioners” or “powdered” sugar)
1 tbsp. whole milk or light cream (see Further Note)
½ tsp. almond extract

Combine well, drizzling over slightly cooled cake.

Further Note: I make this cake with low-fat skim milk, but skim milk is too thin for the glaze. Using whole milk or cream produces a far superior result. You can drizzle the glaze from a spoon, but drizzling it from a small funnel or a squeeze bottle will once again produce the best result. 

Prepare Streusel Topping first

Halve and pit prune plums

When no graininess remains, add yolks

Fold stiffly beaten egg whites into batter

Drizzle glaze over plum cake using a funnel or squeeze bottle

Also see: Nicole’s Plum Pie Indexed under Pies

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