All of a sudden, the summer is as awesome as any summer could possibly be–the days are no longer oppressively hot, swinging from a temperate high-seventies to mid-eighties and the humidity has dropped–and just like that, it is also almost over. Noooo!
I’m not handling this very well. I don’t want summer to be almost over. I don’t care that I love fall; I love even more not having to wear jackets and toe-covering shoes and socks. I hate socks most of all. Everyone knows that fall is abundantly short-lived and all of a sudden you’re catapulted into the longest, winter ever, and …
I’m not ready.
And yet, there’s something happening in our kitchen that subverts my insistence that summer must not end. I made a tiny braise (it was vegetables but still, a braise), I’ve started missing that butternut and chickpea salad we made almost weekly last winter and now this too: I put cinnamon in a coffee cake.
I understand that a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon in a cake does not the fall make (poet!) but it’s the whole picture: late-season plums, a sturdy brown sugar cake, a hint of orange and cinnamon and all together, you have a cake that is the very embodiment of the span between late summer and early fall.
In other words, it was perfect. It also comes together unbelievably quickly, as in Jocelyn texted us at 5 p.m. last weekend to come over for a barbecue, just as we were getting home from the beach, we put it together in no time flat, it baked while we showered and we were up on her roof for one of the best sunsets of the season before 8 p.m.
It was gone almost as quickly, which means you can’t say you weren’t warned about the power of the Dimply Plum.
Note: This cake got some fresh photos and in 2020 It originally looked like this:
Dimply Plum Cake
This recipe got a light update in 2020; I now make it one-bowl. I also realized that if your plums are large, you will not fit 16 halves on the cake — I was only able to fit 9… So, you’ll want either 8 small/medium plums or 5 medium/large ones. When you shop, look at the diameter and estimate how many could fit across an 8-inch pan. This cake might taste a little dry on the first day, but hits its stride — moist with an excellent crumb — on the second and third days.
- 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (packed) (145 grams) light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup (80ml) flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
- Grated zest of half to 1 whole orange (to taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted [see Note about size]
Beat the butter at medium speed until it’s soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a minute after each egg goes in. Still working on medium speed, beat in the oil, zest and vanilla; the batter will look smooth and creamy, almost satiny. Sprinkle baking powder, salt, and cardamom over batter and beat well to combine, 20 seconds longer than seems necessary. Add flour and mix only until incorporated.
Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no unimxed spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter — depending on your plum size, you’ll be able to fit 9 or 16 plum halves on the top. A Jiggle the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a toothpick inserted into the cake between each plum comes out batter-free. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes during which time the plums juices will seep back into the cake then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.
Once cool, I dusted mine with powdered sugar. You can wrap the cake and keep it at room temperature for up to 3 days, during which time it will get softer and more moist.