We had some plums that needed using (plums are in season right now and tasting their best, so be sure to enjoy some this month), so I decided to bake something with them. I was inspired by French plum and almond tarts, but with two girls who want to be held a lot right now, I didn't have the time to make a pastry case. I wanted something that was sweet, but that highlighted good, simple, natural flavours.
My daughter decided to help me experiment, and dubbed it "Feel Better Cake". Eating the batter (and stealing spoon fulls of vanilla sugar when she thought I wasn't looking) seems to have helped her to feel better, if only for a few minutes. Here's what we made.
5 egg whites from small eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) caster sugar
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (for coating plums)
3/4 cup (75 g) ground almonds
3/4 cup flour
140g/5 oz butter (melted and then cooled)
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 plums (halved and stoned)--you can use any variety, preferably fresh and local
1. Beat the egg whites for about 30 seconds with an electric mixer. Add the sugar a little at a time, beating constantly. Beat the sugar and eggs together until they are white and frothy, but not stiff.
2. Beat in the flour and ground almonds.
3. Beat in the butter and vanilla extract. The batter will be quite runny.
4. Pour into a greased and floured pastry dish or small cake or baking dish.
5. Coat the halved plums in vanilla sugar, then place (skin side down) in the batter.
6. Bake in preheated oven at 350 F/180C for approximately 25 minutes.
The finished product was a delicious frangipane-ish cake with a rich almondy taste, a beautiful light texture, and delicious melt-in-your-mouth plums. If you want a caramelized effect on the top of the plums, sprinkle with a little sugar and then use a kitchen blow-torch on them after baking. It would also be delicious with flaked almonds sprinkled on top of the cake around the plums.