Plum Archive

Friday, October 11, 2013

purple plum torte

marion burros' famed plum torte

This may look like an ordinary piece of plum cake, but it is not. It is a famous plum cake, so renowned that I suspect half of you out there have already made it, and the rest of you will soon commit it to memory, because this cake is like that — it is worthwhile enough to become your late September/early October staple. First published in the New York Times by Marian Burros in 1983, the recipe had been given to her by Lois Levine, her co-author on the excellent Elegant but Easy), the recipe was published every year during plum season between then and 1995, when the editor of the food section told readers they were cutting them off, and it was time to cut it out, laminate it and put it on the refrigerator door because they were on their own if they lost it. As if anyone would dare.

plums, found, icebox, etc.
dark italian plums

Amanda Hesser, who compiled and tested 1,400 recipes dating back to the 1850s, when the New York Times began covering food, the James Beard award-winning 2010 Essential New York Times Cookbook, said that when she asked readers for recipe suggestions to include the in book, she received no less than 247 for this one, and suspects that is because it’s a nearly perfect recipe. There are only eight ingredients, seven of which you probably have around and, if you took my hint earlier this week that “buttery plums” were coming later this week, you might even have the eighth. There are only four brief, simple steps, and the batter seems so simple (“like pancake batter,” says Hesser) that you might have understandable doubts about the greatness of this cake.

the plums had been neglected in the fridge

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, August 21, 2011

hazelnut plum crumb tart

hazelnut plum crumb tart

There are few paths that led to this recipe but the main one is that it instantly reminded me of the kind of crumb pies I remember from bakeries growing up, not the kind with a crumble topping but ones with a crust also composed of pressed crumbs. And guys, I love a buttery, flaky, ethereal pie crust woven over cherries and bronzed in the oven as much as the next person, but the idea of choosing it over a crumbly composite of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and sometimes nuts is pure madness. But the filling gave me pause — a custard? a custard that suspends fruit? How odd, right? Or delicious? I went back and forth over the odd-versus-delicious line for the better part of a decade before deciding to finally make it this week. A decade. This recipe was actually published in a 1999 Martha Stewart Living. I was living in Washington D.C., dating a terrible idea and trying to figure out how I could find a place in New York that didn’t charge more than $600/month rent. This recipe is ancient history, people.

toasted hazelnuts
cinnamon hazelnut brown sugar crumbs
how i like to do crumb crusts

So why this week? Like most things in my life right now, it relates to a still (yes, still) unfinished but imminently due manuscript, and my inability to think about much else, which has turned into a perfect time to outsource a bit, by dusting off recipes I’ve had on my To Cook list for eons — especially those that involve plums. I’m seeing plums everywhere these days, and I love them, but they’re always a little bittersweet to me, as they’re one of the last fruits to appear before apples, and everyone knows that while you munch through buckets of apples, late summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter and suddenly, they’re the last fresh fruit you see until rhubarb — which isn’t even a real fruit, but one that likes to pretend it is — appears in the late spring. Hm, aren’t I just a bundle of cheer today?

italian plums

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, August 6, 2011

sugar plum crepes with ricotta and honey

sugar plum crepes, ricotta, mint

One of the things that has surprised me the most as I’m chugging my way along to my manuscript’s finish line is how little clear my vision was for it from the beginning, and how little I’ve erred from my original list of recipe ideas, as in real life, I am a bafflingly indecisive person. “What should we order for dinner?” can send me into a tailspin. “Which colander looks best from Amazon?” will lead me to read 30 minutes of reviews. And yet, half the recipes that are lined up for the book right now (except the breakfast section; we should definitely not discuss that again) are pretty much as I scribbled the ideas while my then-newborn was napping in the fall of 2009. It’s probably for the best I jotted it all down then because my brain has probably not been so centered for 5 minutes since.

measured
flipped

Outside of the book, however, I’m in a huge rut. The idea that I should still be clever, or have inspiration to spare or enthusiasm to return to the kitchen after finally getting it clean from the last cooking cycle (day 10 without a dishwasher!) after working on this book is well beyond my capability, as sadly evidence by the trickling pace of updates this summer. And when I do cook, I only want one of three things: 1. Dishes that involve corn (see also: corn pancakes, corn pie, corn popovers, corn tacos and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for my corn plans, so help us all), 2. Crepes and crepe family members. Did you know that popovers, Dutch babies, canneles and blintzes are more or less crepe batters at their base? So, yes, all those as well. 3. Things with ricotta. I’ll occasionally throw in cherries, stone fruit or tomatoes, but more or less, my brain is like that raven in Game of Thrones: “CORN! CORN!”

pom-pom plums

Continued after the jump »

Friday, October 1, 2010

single-crust plum and apple pie

apple and plum pie

Early fall is a ridiculous time to get cooking block. Inspiration is everywhere as nearly everything that could possibly be in season currently is. The markets are flooded with great stuff; summer tomatoes, eggplant, corn and peppers fight for space on tables with apples, pears, greens and winter squash. But somehow — when I’m not playing SuperMom or Good Football Wife or gushing over tiny fall outfits — I’ve been at an impasse. The summer stuff is waning; the last tomatoes I brought home were… rough, to put it nicely. And given that the butternut squash and collards are the last bits of fresh produce we’ll see until asparagus spears pop up in May 2011, seven very long months from now, I’m sure you understand why I put off cooking with them for as long as possible.

prune plums
big yellow apples

So I was spending an unhealthy amount of time contemplating my First World Problem — What should I cook next? — when a reader (Hi, Janet!) sent me a link to Nigel Slater’s single-crust plum pie in The Guardian two weeks ago and, obviously, that was it as plum season is almost over. Slater argues that some fruits are too wet for a double-crusted pie and plums are one of them. To make up for getting stiffed by the absence of a bottom crust, he makes the top crust very thick and, look, these aren’t his words but let’s be frank: It’s a cookie. And it’s awesome.

apples and sad, old prune plums

Continued after the jump »

Friday, July 31, 2009

plum kuchen

concave plum kuchen

I’ve been curious to make a yeasted coffee cake for years, but every time I got close to making one, I decided against it. Would it be dry or overly-firm? Would it taste too much like bread? How would I know a good one if I’ve probably never had an authentic German kuchen — a general name for a type of sweet, yeasted cake, usually served with coffee — one? I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I’m a master at talking myself out of things.

glossy yeasted cake batter
doughy batter

But then I saw a plum kuchen in this month’s Gourmet magazine and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It called for whole milk yogurt, we had whole milk yogurt in the fridge. It called for plums, we’ve been buying them in multi-pound increments. It called for one and a quarter sticks of butter and like magic, I had exactly one a quarter sticks of butter left, and seriously, not a smidge more. I had run out of excuses.

plum armadillos
butter sugar and plum slices

Continued after the jump »


css.php