Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

I could not wait to get started on this week's recipe for Dimply Plum Cake, chosen by Michelle of Bake-en. As you all know, we've been on quite the cookie streak here at TWD, and nothing screams "not a cookie" quite like a dimply plum cake.

While Dorie lists several other fruit options to use with this cake instead of plums, I knew right away that I was plumming it. Growing up, my mother bought plums all the time in the summer. Peaches and plums shared the top status as Favored Summer Fruit in the "Fruits with Pits" category (not be be confused with the "Fruits with Seeds" or the "Berries," all of which were also much-loved by us in those sweet June through August months). But somewhere along the way, I forgot about plums. It's not like anything "happened," we just kind of drifted apart. It was me, not the plums. So when I saw that Dimply Plum Cake was chosen for this week, I knew that this was the chance for me and plums to be right again.

And so what did I go and do when it came time to choose the plums? I let my three year old, who loves picking out the produce, choose ten plums and drop them in the bag, without giving them so much as one discreet little squeeze before she let go. What was I thinking? How could I give a three year old complete control over something as important to my plum cake as the plum selection process? I guess I was distracted by the sample of Allouette on Sociables with Peach Preserves that they handed me on the way into the store. Oh, did I ever pay the piper for that little mistake.

As soon as I got home I realized that my plums were overripe. Way overripe. Not quite rotten, but most definitely well past their plummy best. But I decided to make the cake anyway, thinking that the plums would get all soft when baked anyway, and maybe overripe plums would be to dimply plum cake what overripe bananas are to banana bread.

I prepped the plums, and then got to work on mixing the dry ingredients, including flour, brand-spanking-new baking powder, salt and cardamom. Once my dry ingredients were mixed, I thought about driving straight to the bank to put the cardamom in my safe deposit box, because at $14.99 for a tiny 1.9 ounce jar, I knew that it had to be very special, and I didn't want to just leave it hanging around the kitchen, being taught dirty words by the other spices.

The world's most expensive scant 1/4 teaspoon:


I mixed it all together, poured the batter into the pan and assembled the plums on top, and then thought what I think every week: this doesn't look nearly as good as Dorie's.



The cake smelled great baking, and looked pretty good when it came out of the oven. I thought it was sufficiently "dimply."


My secret ingredient: plum label.


Ooops! Rookie mistake. Glad that was my piece! It reminds me of that time in high school when I baked fortune cookies for the International Food Fair, and then asked Senor Pelosi, my Spanish teacher, what his fortune was, and he said "THERE WAS A FORTUNE IN THERE???" I think I got a B in Spanish that semester.



The cake was okay, notwithstanding the mediocre plums. David thought that it had a slightly bitter aftertaste, and I could see what he meant -- I'm not sure if that was the rotten, er, overripe plums, or some flavor in the batter (probably the cardamom). We served it to my parents, and they seemed to like it fine. It didn't make anyone do backflips or anything, but that's probably for the best, because we don't need any injuries over Sunday dinner. I probably won't make this again, just because Dorie has a zillion other coffee cakes in her book, and I assume I'll like another one better. I do feel like I am a little further down the road to reconciliation with the plums, so making this was definitely a positive exercise anyway.

40 comments:

Pamela said...

First of all, the "distraction" at the supermarket sounds like a worthy one! And I really like the special touch your secret ingredient added. I really enjoyed this with the cherries. I was surprised, actually!

Audrey said...

I left (at least) one in mine, too! They were hard to peel off. Your cake looks wonderful. I loved this recipe, too...and the plums.

Andrea said...

You are too funny! I love that you want to protect your uptown cardamom from those other downtown spices. I'm so sorry this cake wasn't amazing for you guys, I'm surprised since you are a plum fan. It must have been the almost overripe plums. I think your cake looks extra dimply and delicious. And yes, of course I have a mini torch for creme brulee next week :)

Lori said...

haha!!! your post is hilarious. and i love your secret ingredient. i agree, this was ok (the cake part, at least), but with so many other delicious cakes to make, i probably won't ever come back to this one.

n.o.e said...

I don't think I should be laughing this hard before breakfast. The 3 year-old, the sociables, the bank vault, the label, the back flips, the Spanish teacher...
Anyway, it's great that you and plums are patching things up. You want to "be friends" with your stone fruit.
Nancy

Laura said...

You need to place a warning on your site that reads something like this:
"WARNING - fits of laughing may occur. Please remember to put your coffee cups down and don't take a sip until finished reading."

I nearly choked on mine while reading this post because I was chuckling so much. You are so talented - both writing and baking! I'll be making this again, but only with Prudy's changes - sounds great!

Jules Someone said...

The plum label cracked me up! I'd do the exact same thing. Maybe part of the bitter taste was the peel. It was in mine. Regardless, it looks lovely!

Prudy said...

Another example of why I love coming to your blog. From drifting apart with the plums, letting your three year old pick out the fruit while you sampled Alouette, to Senor Pelosi's B after the fortune cookie, to the plum sticker, and last but not least your parent's potential backflip. I'm telling you, you really don't need any recipes at all to get me here. Just keep writing.

Prudy said...

Oh-and the cardamom. I can't bring myself to buy it till I find it cheap.

Flourchild said...

I love your post! Your cake looks great, sorry you didn't like it much. Im glad no one chocked on the plum label!

Peggy said...

were you thinking this was a king cake for mardi gras and you needed a little surprise tucked in there somewhere? You are too much! Love it.

Jamie said...

So funny I did that with a plum label too, but I fished the sucker outta the batter! Your cake looks great!

Maria said...

I love the secret ingredient..ha! Great post:) And thanks so much for the award. You are great!! We enjoy your blog as well!

Karen said...

You are hilarious! I loved your secret ingredient! :)

Marthe said...

Hahah, your secret ingredient is great!! Must remember that for the next time I make this cake!!!

Anne said...

Cathy, you're hilarious. When you let your toddler pick the fruit I thought, that's something I would do, with similar results! (But mine would just try to eat them before we left the store!) I think the cake looks great on the platter and ready to eat. Try peaches maybe... there wasn't any bitter taste (but sometimes I think plum skin is like that to me). Great job as usual! :)

Kimberly said...

Hmmm, wonder if plum label runs as high at the store as cardamom does; I'll have to check it out :) And you managed to fit 16 plum halves on there! Trying to be Dorie's pet, aren't you... ;D

Di said...

I don't know what had me laughing more, the plum label or the image of your 3yo picking the plums. The joys of shopping with small helpers... =) I'm so glad I can buy my herbs and spices in bulk--I had no idea jars of cardamom were so expensive!

Natashya said...

I love the baked label shot! I would do something like that.
I am guessing the bitter taste was the skin or orange zest?
Yours looks very good, a nice generous amount of plumminess.

Marie said...

I really loved this cake. I had to chuckle at your label. Reminds me of my first turkey and baking the bag of giblets inside. I loved this cake. I added a brown sugar streusel topping and it was fabulous!

TeaLady said...

At least you KNEW it was a plum. Glad you like this one. Pricy spice, but great flavor. I use it a lot. Great job on the cake.

Bridgett said...

I love the special ingredient! Your cake turned out beautifully even though it wasn't your favorite.

Jess said...

14.99...wow, glad I didn't run out for cardamom! Your cake looks great, especially with its extra special touch.

Melissa said...

I laughed out loud when I read the story about your spanish teacher. That's hilarious! Your cake sure looks yummy... minus the label on that plum!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your cake looks lovely! Love the secret ingredient! Hehehe!

Julie said...

I always worry about pet hair in my TWD creations....never once have I given thought to produce labels. Ooooh, a new kitchen fear! YAY! By the way, plums will leave you faster than you will leave them if you eat too many in one sitting. Just a little FYI from your good friend.

n.o.e said...

It's kind of amazing how much that cardamom cost you. I was in Whole Foods today and the jars of cardamom were in the $4-$7 range. And I think of that store as the priciest-in-class. Anyway, look at page 38-39 of Dorie's book: Cardamom Crumb Cake - it has cardamom in the cake and in the crumb topping. You can use almost 2 tsp. in one recipe!
Nancy

Alwayzbakin said...

Okay. First of all, I love the retro pic on your blog (You'll eat it and like it). That's so me. LOL So funny how your little one picked the plums. And furthermore, the label peeking through is the best! I've had these things happen. Your cake still looks awesome!

Spike said...

Kind of glad I forgot to pick up cardamon at the store!

Engineer Baker said...

What a wonderful secret ingredient :) I found that the skin of the plum made it a little bitter, so maybe that's what you were tasting.

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love your cake's story ! And yor cake that looks beautiful. Thanks for your visit !

Mary Ann said...

I absolutely love that you baked the plum sticker into the cake! That is funny. Your cake turned out beautifully and wasn't it delicious? I blog once a week about things that I put in the lunchbox, so make sure to check it out. My son is 6 and is becoming more and more excited about the options in his lunch. He is picky, but I let him choose recipes with me and so I think he feels a part of it. Thanks for your comment- I look forward to seeing more of your wonderful posts!

n.o.e said...

Not to be a stalker or anything, I saw that one of the new members, Gary of Sweet Boy, has a recipe for a bar cookie that uses 1 Tablespoon of cardamom. And it looks yummy, to boot.

I figured "in for a penny, in for a pound" and bought a jar of cardamom pods to go along with my jar of ground cardamom. So it's going to be all cardamom, all the time, around here.
Nancy

Mike Spoodles said...

Oh god, I'm so glad I didn't find cardamom at the grocery store...because I WOULD have bought it, and frankly my car payments are a little much to buy $15 spices!

bakingwiththeboys said...

I always have to watch the kids in the fruit aisle. They will somehow find the only moldy peach or the two apples with giant worm holes. Your post was great.

Teanna said...

oh man!!! I always leave sticker "surprises" in my fruit when I am baking! I don't know how I always do it! Sorry it's not a favorite, but your cake looks great!

kim said...

haha, cracking up about the label ;) the cake looks absolutely delicious! and i can't believe how expensive that cardamom was, wow... at least there was a lot of it, i guess...

Jacque said...

I think it looks every bit as good as Dorie's! Way to go :)

SiHaN said...

oh a pity you didn't like it all that much. But it's okay! everyone is bound to have a favourite recipe! The still does look wonderful though!

Matt's Kitchen said...

The baked plum label is classic. It always makes me feel better when I see someone else do things like that!

 
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