Summer’s Harvest: Plums are Now Bountiful at Your Farmer’s Market

Plum crunch cake with roasted plums

There’s so much great produce at farmer’s markets these days, it’s hard to know where to begin. But these lovely plums caught my eye last Saturday. Plums show up in almost endless variety. Some 2,000 different types are grown world wide, with 100 varieties grown in the U.S. alone, ranging from the spring-green green gage to deeply blue-to-indigo-colored damsons, with shades of rosy pink, yellow and cream in between. A whitish bloom on the skin is normal, and in fact is a sign they are fresh and haven’t been over handled. Choose plums that are slightly soft at the tip, and eat them thoroughly ripe, as apparently their anti-oxidant quality increases with ripeness. Plums are typically made into wine, jams and jellies and are delicious dried (formerly known as “prunes,” but you may have noticed that the marketing people now call them “dried plums”). In any case, my recipe for a simple vegan plum crunch cake follows…

California plums are now in peak season.

PLUM CRUNCH CAKE WITH ROASTED PLUMS

Preheat oven to 400º F, later reduce to 350º F (9 servings)

Plum layer:

10 plums, cut in half, pits removed

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon oil

tiny pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, toss together the plum layer ingredients.  Lightly oil a cookie sheet and spread the half plums evenly. Roast in a 400º F oven 20 minutes or until sweet and slightly caramelized.

Crunch Topping:

1 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup rolled oats

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Process briefly to coarsely chop everything and to combine.

Cake Batter:

Dry ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached cake flour

1/4 cup corn flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

tiny pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Sift together dry ingredients into a medium bowl.

2. Measure  wet ingredients into the bowl of a blender. Blend briefly on medium speed.

3. Pour wet into dry and thoroughly mix.

4. Pour into an oiled 9-inch baking pan and spread out evenly with a rubber spatula.

5. Arrange 9 half plums evenly in three rows of three on top of the batter.

6. Sprinkle the crunch topping evenly over the plums and the batter.

7. Bake in 350º F oven 30 minutes or until it tests done.

8. Cut so that each peice has a plum in the center. Serve a spoonful of the extra roasted plums along side.

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