Sunday, September 8, 2013

what to do when your tree only produces a dozen plums

we have a rather ancient plum tree in the garden. it wasn't doing very well, so a couple of years ago, husband severely pruned it back. at first, this appeared to make it very sad. but now, the procedure has quite literally borne fruit and there were plums on it for the first time since we've lived here. they weren't many (only about a dozen), but they were beautiful and sweet. so i knew i had to do something special with them. then a friend posted this recipe for a gingery plum cake on her facebook wall.

i'd been in the kitchen all day, making chutney and raspberry jam and pickles and lasagne and bread when i decided i'd better make the cake before the plums went bad. it was late in the day and i didn't want to make a grocery store run, so although i didn't quite have all the ingredients, i knew i could improvise.

plum gingerbread cake

1 dozen plums, halved and de-stoned
3 spoonfuls of sugar
butter for greasing the pan

the cake:
175 grams butter
100 grams brown sugar
3 discs of palm sugar
80 ml golden syrup
80 ml molasses
2 large eggs
200 ml milk
300 grams flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cardamon
1/4 tsp. allspice

preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. grease a square pan with butter and line the base of it with baking parchment. butter the paper and sprinkle with sugar. arrange the plums prettily in the bottom with the cut side facing the sugar.

melt the butter and the two kinds of sugar and the syrup in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth and all of the sugar is melted. (this is where i went wrong. i was doing about 12 other things and didn't pay very close attention. my mixture went to a rather rolling boil and began to show early signs of turning to caramel. this, as it turned out, was a very good thing.) remove from heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so before stirring in the eggs. alternate the dry ingredients and milk and mix to a smooth batter.

pour the batter carefully over the plum and bake for 45+ minutes. you can turn it out of the tin if you're serving to guests and want to be fancy, but you can just as well leave it in for easy storage.

notes: do let that sugar-butter mixture get a bit caramel-y, you won't regret it. you can use 175grams of brown sugar, i just didn't have that much left and had some of those palm sugar discs languishing in the cupboard. i also didn't have enough golden syrup in the cupboard, so i topped it off with some of my precious molasses, which made the cake even more like a proper gingerbread, so that was a good thing. 

i can safely advise eating it for breakfast with a bit of cream poured over it. if you serve it as dessert, it would go very nicely with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. it was a very worthy recipe for my precious plums.


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