Autumn is without a doubt my favourite season. I love the colours of nature and I love the clothes and the fact that I can buy new boots (check out my Instagram to see my latest purchases if you’re into that sort of thing!) and most of all, I love the fact that it’s actually pleasant to be in the kitchen without worrying that the combined heat of summer + oven + hob is going to make you keel over. And I also love autumn produce – stoned fruits like plums and greengages are perfect at the end of summer, apples are coming in to season, there’s rhubarb a plenty and it’s generally a great time to get creative with baking.
Which brings me perfectly on to today’s recipe – a spiced plum cake. Now when most Brits hear plum cake, we think of some sort of heavy festive dessert but this is not that. I’m talking about a cake with a fresh fruit base. I reckon you could swap out the fruit for anything that’s in season – peaches or apples for example, but don’t think berries would work as the batter is quite wet and the cooking time is relatively long so you may end up with a mushy base and no one wants a mushy base. You’ll see in this that there’s a row of greengages in the middle – I didn’t have quite enough plums to fill the base so added these in, but actually like the colour difference and the additional tartness this added to the overall cake. However, you can just use plums on their own.
Spiced Plum Cake
For the base:
- 500g plums, halved and stoned
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar
For the cake:
- 175g butter
- 175g dark muscovado sugar
- 140g golden syrup
- 2 eggs
- 200ml milk
- 300g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 7g powdered ginger
- 5g cinnamon
- 5 g all spice
- Pinch of salt
Grease and line a 9″ square baking tin and preheat the oven to 140C or gas mark 4. Spread a good layer of butter onto the greaseproof paper and sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top of that and then place the plums on it so they look nice (this will be the top of your cake). Leave to one side.
Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a pan and melt together over a low heat, stirring continuously. This should only take a couple of minutes. Leave to cool to one side for about 15 minutes – you don’t want the eggs to cook when they’re added in. In the meantime, weigh out the dry ingredients and beat together the eggs and milk.
Once the butter mix has cooled, pour in the milk and eggs, stirring till it’s all incorporated. Then sift in the flour with the other dry ingredients and fold together till it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter over the plums and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. Note, the base will be a little caramelly because of the butter and sugar and plums, so don’t worry if the tip of the skewer looks a little bit undercooked – it won’t be.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Put something under the wire rack, you may lose a little caramel topping on to your work surface and it’s a bitch to clean off.
We had it with custard (shop bought, sorry) but would be equally lovely with creme fraiche or something else creamy.