Monday, June 21, 2010
Ordinary Time's Blessings and Bounty: The (Cherry?) Plum Torte
While I am a huge lover of variety, I really love it when there are specific cakes or meals associated with a given person's birthday. In my own family of origin, (aka The Vitz Family!), we are now in "high birthday season" as four of the six children were born betweeen June 9 and July 5, and my father and one brother were born in August. My sister Anna celebrated her birthday recently with one of her favorite family cakes: the plum torte. It's an extremely versatile cake that is always tasty, and which seems to have origins in a recipe printed in the NY Times years ago. Ever the lover of tradition and experimentation, I am fortunate enough to have a fruiting (tart) cherry tree in my backyard. It's wonderful and excitin to see just how much fruit one tree produces--but only for a short period (as I learned the hard way one year when I didn't pick the fruit in time and came back to a tree without a SINGLE cherry left!)
This year, after making the requisite cherry jam and cherry pie, I tried mixing up the plum torte with cherries, which were excellent; I only regret that we ate it too fast for pictures (the picture here is the original plum version). Any fruit that has some tartness and some backbone can work in this, but put a lot in--the cake will sort of "envelop" whatever goes on top!
The Original Plum Torte Adapted from the NY Times
TOTAL TIME 1 hour 15 minutes
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt, optional
8 large plums, halved, or the equivalent of some otherfruit
Sugar and lemon juice, for topping
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
3. Spoon the batter into an 8-, 9- or 10-inch spring form. (I prefer 9 or 10 inch; I find it cooks more evenly for me)
4. Split and pit the plums and place the halves, skin side up, on top of the batter.
5. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about a teaspoon of cinnamon, to taste.
6. Bake about an hour. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm, then serve plain or with whipped cream.
YIELD 8 servings NOTE: To freeze, double wrap torte in aluminum foil, place in plastic bag and seal. To serve a torte that has been frozen, defrost and reheat briefly at 300 degrees.