Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pretty Plum Cake (and dairy-free!)

Today I baked.

I love baking-- I think I could probably drop 20 pounds, easy, if I could just bake more cakes.  I know this sounds crazy, but the joy I get from creating new delicious treats is so satisfying that my normal sweet cravings are kept in check while I feed others.

Baking in a small kitchen is an exercise in organization and planning ahead.  I'm not great at that.  My eyes roll when I see the prep list of a recipe-- combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl... mix the wet in a medium bowl... in a large bowl take the remaining liquid....

Where to put everything when your counter space is limited?  I usually have bags of flour perched on top of the stack of cookbooks, spice bottles tucked in the valleys between the mixing bowls, and measuring cups and spoons just tossed in random crevices.  It's a bit of a balancing act, but it works.

Anyway, so today I baked.

We were invited to a friend's place for a barbecue and it was just a total pleasure being there.  It was a sort of house warming, and the home was warm indeed.  Nice conversation, mostly happy children playing, and of course, great food.  In honor of a visit outside of the house, I felt inspired to bake one of the recipes I've been saving in a notebook for years.  It's a plum upside-down cake, and it's wonderful.

Pretty Plum Cake (Dairy-free) (adapted from Real Simple)

This is such a pretty cake, the photos don't do it justice.  And it's so good.  I made this cake dairy-free, but the original calls for butter and regular sour cream.  I bet the cake would also taste great with yogurt instead of sour cream-- give it a different kind of zing.  Next time.

Prep time: 20 min
Total time: 2 hrs 20 min

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp margarine
6 plums (2.5" diameter) peel on, cut into 8 wedges each
1/4 cup + 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup tofu sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest (about half a lemon's worth)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 dashes cloves

Prep.  Heat oven to 350 F.  Grease (with margarine or butter) an 8 inch cake pan (make sure it's deep, at least 4 inches).  Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Plums.  Melt 1 tbsp margarine in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add plums and 1/4 c sugar and a dash of cloves.  Cook, stirring around, until sugar dissolves and juices from plums become syrupy, about 4 min.  While warm, arrange plums in cake pan, in slightly overlapping concentric circles, starting from the outside.  Spoon pan juices over the plums.

Dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and remaining spices.

Wet ingredients.  In a large bowl, beat 1/2 c margarine, 2/3 c sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg, sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest.   Slowly add dry ingredients, mix just until incorporated.

Bake.  Pour batter over plums and bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, about 55 min.  Let cool in pan 1 hr. Place large plate over cake pan and invert cake onto plate.

Marvel at the pretty thing you made, then eat it.

Do you bake in a small kitchen? Do you think your small space hampers your love of cooking? 


  1. I never heard of tofu sour cream! It's amazing what they come up with. And that is indeed a pretty cake! I wish I could make it, but alas, I can't have gluten and I haven't learned how to substitute yet. It looks delicious though.

    1. Actually, I do quite a bit of gluten-free cooking/baking and I think this recipe would be easy to switch over.

      For a gluten-free version of the plum cake, swap out the 1 cup all purpose flour with my personal favorite gluten-free flour combination: 1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I like Bob's Red Mill) and 1/4 cup each of sorghum and brown rice flour. Add an extra teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe.

      Let me know how it goes!


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