Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Plum Cake

I love that there's a plum tree in our front yard. That said, these plums are not from that tree. Our neighbors also have a plum tree and they actually pick the plums and put them to use. I just like watching the squirrels run off with ours. Seriously, it's the cutest thing. Sometimes, I find a pit and some plum skins on our front steps. I'm glad our little furry friends have somewhere they can get a good meal.

This is how I justify using the neighbor's plums for this cake instead of our own. He went to the trouble of picking, washing and delivering them. How could I say no? It turned out that it was the perfect amount to make a cake with, so why not?

This cake is really pretty, but also easy to make. It takes a little time, but isn't very complicated. It looks complicated, which is perfect if you're having people over for dinner and want to impress them with dessert. Just don't eat the whole cake yourself in one sitting. All those plums could get a little...intense, if you know what I mean.

If you've never cut plums, don't worry. They're super easy. The trick is to cut them lengthwise, so when the pit comes out, it looks pretty. You can see in this picture that I was doing fine with that, but got distracted while cutting one and cut it the wrong way. That one definitely sticks out in this grouping and isn't nearly as pretty:

If you do this once or twice, don't sweat it. There's an inner layer of plum slices, so just put them in there. No one will ever know.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance, softened
2/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer, mixed with 4 tbsp warm water (Bob's Red Mill brand works, too)
3/4 cup dairy-free sour cream (I used Tofutti's Sour Supreme)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp brown sugar
12 ripe plums, halved and pitted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and ensure that a rack is in the lower third of the oven.

First, prepare your cake pan. Use a 9-inch cake round or a springform pan. Grease it up with some Earth Balance and cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom. Once it's in place, grease it up as well. Toss in a small handful of flour and roll the pan around to coat the bottom and sides. Discard any that's left over. Make sure you grease the bottom of the pan before the parchment goes in so it stays in place when you put the batter into the pan.

In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. 

In a large bowl, or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the Earth Balance and sugar for 2-3 minutes. Mix in the egg replacer, sour cream and vanilla, letting it run until the whole mixture is smooth.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture a bit at a time until it's all well combined. The batter will be thicker than a normal cake batter, but that's what we're looking for.

 You definitely can't pour it, so you'll need to spread half of it in the bottom of the pan. It won't seem like much, but that's okay. Just make sure there's an even layer around the bottom and that you can't see the bottom of the pan.

Place half of the plum halves, cut-side down, onto the batter, pressing them down a bit.

Spread the other half of the batter over those plums, covering them completely. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and then place the rest of the plum halves, cut-side up, into the batter, pressing them down slightly.

Put the cake into the oven and bake for 50 minutes or so, until a cake tester comes cleanly out of the middle. Test it a few times to make sure you're not hitting one of those hidden plums.

You can serve this with a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top or, if you're feeling extra fancy, some non-dairy whipped cream. It's totally great plain, as well.

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