There are two kinds of grandma recipes: the dead simple ones (how does she make it taste so good, then?) and the laborious ones (how did anyone ever do this...without a food processor?). Both are completely necessary, like twin pillars holding up the world. But there are also two kinds of days: the ones when you need a good, juicy project that you're willing to learn from, and the ones when you just need cake, stat. This plum cake is of the dead simple, need-cake-now variety. It's as easy as they come and total kitchen magic.
I know the plums look fancy all thinly sliced and fanned out on top, but the cake tastes just as good when you scatter them on top (as I often do). You can use slightly overripe/post-prime fruit and it's all good. You can always dust with powdered sugar if you need to fancify further. Also? Plums are really good on top of this cake, but you can use any kind of stone fruit, like peaches and nectarines, and frozen is fine. As are different kinds of mismatched plums and/or other stone fruits.
Making plum kuchen
The base of the cake is as simple as it gets: combine all the ingredients and turn on the mixer. (Or go to it, mixing by hand; it works just fine.) One thing you should know is that the batter is, well, unattractive. It's slick and goopy and lumpy and looks all wrong. So if you wonder if this thing will really turn into a pretty cake, you're doing it right.
After pouring the batter into a round cake pan (8"-9" / 20-23 cm), you place the plums on top. Plums generally slice obligingly well, even when soft. I cut them in half and take out the pit by hand (it usually comes out easily, which is more than I can say for peaches, otherwise my favorite fruit). Then I slice them thinly with a chef's knife. If you want to make the pattern, start on the outside by slightly overlapping the fruit slices. Work your way around the cake, then make another, much smaller circle in the center. The crowning touch is a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon on top.
You can make the cake dairy by using butter, or dairy-free by using margarine (I like Earth Balance sticks). It's practically indistinguishable, which I don't say lightly!
Looking for more easy desserts?
Plum Kuchen (dairy or parve)
- ½ cup butter or margarine, softened - 110 g
- ⅓ cup neutral-flavored oil - 80 ml
- 4 eggs
- 1 ¼ cups brown sugar, packed - 265 g
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour - 220 g
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 3-4 plums
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°C / 180°C. Grease a round (8"-9" / 20-23 cm) cake pan.
Make the cake base:
- Place the softened butter/margarine, oil, eggs, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt (all the ingredients) in a large mixing bowl. With a mixer or by hand, mix until combined. The batter will be relatively thin and lumpy, which is fine.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.
Add the plums:
- Halve and pit the plums. Slice each half into thin slices.
- Arrange the plum slices, slightly overlapping, in concentric circles on top.
- Sprinkle the plums with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Bake the cake:
- Bake for 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean from the center.