After months of waiting, the Italian plums are finally ripe. The almond-shaped fruit is firm and sweet, with a tangy skin – sturdy enough to withstand some heat. Add butter, brown sugar, and a splash of brandy; you’ll find it’s a combination of pure magic. As my fork found its way into the caramelized plums for a sample, I briefly considered polishing off the entire pan. Restraint won out, however.
I settled on a quick and unfailingly delicious almond cake as the base for the plums. Their syrupy juices infuse the batter during baking, resulting in a moist and light cake. I can’t think of a better way to transition from late summer to early fall.
Caramelized Plum Cake
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 cups Italian plums, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp brandy
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted and finely ground
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add plums and brown sugar; sauté until fruit is soft but not falling apart, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in brandy. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk together ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium-low and add egg and almond extract; beat well. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture, beating just to combine. Add buttermilk, then finish with remaining flour mixture.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth top with an offset spatula. Arrange caramelized plums on top of batter in a single layer; spoon juices over fruit. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake an additional 20 minutes, until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days; warm before serving.
Yield – 16 squares (serving size: 1 square)
Calories – 165
Carbs – 25