November 19, 2014

Recipe: Plum Poppy Seed Cake


I've been busy lately, as you might have surmised from the pin-drop silence here on the blog. As penance for my blogging absence, I made you a cake. It just felt like the right thing to do. It became a plum cake when I remembered a handful of plums sitting in my fridge, stowaways from an autumn season that is all-too-quickly turning to winter here on the East Coast. Once plums were involved, it only seemed natural that almond extract - a great friend to plums - should be included. This led me to create a cake batter inspired by my one of my favorite breakfast treats: Almond Poppy Seed Muffins. And with that, Plum Poppy Seed Cake was born.

Plum Poppy Seed Cake is a cross between Almond Poppy Seed Muffins and a Fruit Buckle (an old-fashioned cake with fruit baked into the top). The cake is tender but wholesome, thanks to a winning combination of coconut oil and whole wheat flour. Poppy seeds add a welcome crunch, and almond extract (backed up by the coconut oil) infuses the cake with a heady fragrance and rich flavor. Slices of plums are the cake's crowning glory, forming dimples of jewel-pink fruit as the cake rises up around them.

Much like my Peach Polenta Upside Down Cake, this cake is an "anytime cake" - a just-sweet-enough treat that can be served for breakfast, as a light dessert, or alongside a cup of tea or coffee when your afternoon could use a pick-me-up. I mean, come on. Cake you're allowed to eat whenever you'd like? SOLD.



Plum Poppy Seed Cake
serves 8-10

4 medium plums
1 cup plain non-dairy milk (soymilk recommended)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with cooking spray. Halve the plums and remove their pits, then slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges and set aside. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, add the milk and vinegar, stir, and set aside to sour for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until evenly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soured milk, coconut oil, applesauce, 1/2 cup sugar, and almond extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients and gently stir until a smooth batter forms.

Pour batter into greased pan and smooth out top with a spatula. Arrange the sliced plums on top of cake in whatever pattern you'd like, then sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Transfer skillet to oven and bake cake for 38-42 minutes, or until the center tests clean. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cake has cooled, run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the springform portion. Run a knife under the bottom of the cake to loosen it before carefully transferring to a plate for serving.