Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When life hands you a case of plums....

Make upside-down plum cake

So, yeah- I bought a case of black plums. A CASE. I'm beginning to wonder if I may have been high at the time, as I am feeling totally overwhelmed by them. I ordered a case for the plum pie I am making at work right now, and was surprised by how especially delicious they are this year. So why not order a WHOLE CASE for myself? Forget the fact that Trevor doesn't even like plums and will therefore be no help whatsoever in consuming them.

High I tell you. Tripping Balls.

In the past week I have made plum sorbet, plum scones, the upside-down cake you see, and will hopefully will be tackling the bulk of them today by making plum jelly.
I'm drowning

Thats okay, when fall rolls around I get a major home-baking bug up my ass. On top of all of the plum desserts being pumped out of my kitchen, I've been on a cookie frenzy as well. Trevor and I made Halloween cat shaped chocolate butter cookies on Sunday. The recipe came from Cooks Illustrated and they SUCKED ASS (they were, however adorable). It's one of the few times I've been let down by C.I., but not even the ganache glaze could save them. I ended up dumping them on my co-workers who, not unlike meth addicts, will eat anything containing sugar. Anything.
Future blog posts will most likely include pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies (which were both cute and had the good manners to be delicious), poppy seed shortbread (my all time favorite cookie), and chocolate sandwiches (read: oreos).

These little plum cakes are my favorite incarnation of the upside-down genre, and it usually makes an appearance on my dessert menu in the late summer. The cake is not overly sweet and has the texture of a cross between a muffin and a cake donut. The Armagnac scented caramel provides most of the sweetness and acts as a gooey counterpart to the tart plums and muffiny cake. They don't need much dressing up. Ice cream is a little too rich. I usually go for a dollop of creme fraiche. On my menu, I will add a plum caramel to accent the flavors of the cake.
The modest, unassuming dollop.

I'm going to send this dessert over to my girl Ley, of Cilantro and Lime. She's hosting her first blog event Baking for breast cancer awareness. I participated in the boobie bake off last year with my boob-shaped cupcakes. I had considered revisiting these, but opted not to be quite so 7th grade this time around. These plum cakes are pink(ish), which for some reason is the chosen color to represent breast cancer. While that is not a requirement for this particular event, I found them to be somewhat fitting. Ley also asked that we share how breast cancer has affected our lives personally....
Somehow, this form of cancer has not really affected me. I consider myself to be very lucky for this. Cancer in general has affected me greatly. My mother-in-law lost her battle with a rare form of lung cancer. My Grandfather (the coolest Grandfather EVER)is currently battling prostate cancer, and knock on wood, appears to be beating it. I could keep going, but as far as the boobies are concerned, those close to me have been fortunate. So I will keep participating in events like these, keep taking care of myself, and keep hoping the women I care about remain healthy.

Upside-down plum cake
Makes 7 4" individual cakes

4 oz. butter
6 oz. brown sugar
2 T Armagnac or brandy of your choice
sliced plums

Spray ramekins with pan spray. Line the bottoms with little circles of parchment paper and spray again. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk until it melts. Remove from heat and whisk in brandy.
Ladle about 1 oz of caramel into the bottom of each ramekin.
Fan 4 slices of plums over the caramel (usually takes about 3 plums). Chill until caramel is firm- at least an hour.
Cake batter:
3 oz. butter, softened
1 cup sugar (I always use my vanilla sugar. If you have any on hand, it really makes a difference. If you don't- make some!)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup + 3 Tb all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup sour cream
In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the butter with the sugar using the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. Alternate adding the sour cream and sifted dry ingredients in 3 additions. Scoop the batter into the ramekins and spread with a small offset spatula (batter is quite thick). Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes- until a cake tester comes out with a few moist (but not raw) crumbs clinging to it and the surface of the cake springs back when gently pressed. Let cool about 10 minutes (until just cool enough to handle). Flip cakes out onto a cake rack. Serve warm.


Brittany said...

Those look amazing...and did you say plum sorbet? Do share!

Emiline said...

These sound amazing! Thank you for reminding me about the event. I'll have to think of something to bake.

I really want some of that caramel.

ley said...

Yay! Thank you so much for participating in this! I will say that I will admit that I was hoping for the boobies, though. ;)

These look wonderful! I love the caramel and plum combination. And, yeah, I side with Brittany up there in wanting to hear more about the other plum desserts, too!

Foodycat said...

Peter at Kalofagas did a plum tarte tatin t'other day that I think you should do! I love an upside down cake though.

The Spiteful Chef said...

Hot. Damn. Are plums still in season? I haven't seen anything but Honeycrisp and Gala apples in our grocery store. Don't get me wrong, I love apples. I'm eating like 3 a day, no bullshit. I keep telling Chris it's to "keep him away" which I think is a hilarious doctor/sex joke, but I'm not sure he gets it. Plum preserves would make me endlessly happy since I appear to be out of things to can. Oh well. I think the only produce that you can consistently get in Texas is cheesy poofs.

Brittany said...

Brittany- the sorbet is really good, and I have a shitload of it...but I didn't use a recipe or write down what I did (my standard sorbet making behavior). I 'spoze I could post a "rough outline" ?

Em- I can't wait to see what you come up with you sexy baking godess, you.

Ley- I know, I know....I'm sure one of the participants will come up with a boob entry for ya (Em?). Thanks for hosting!

Foodycat- I remeber Peter's beautiful tart...great idea

Spiteful- I got the last couple of cases of the season at the beginning of last week. All of our produce is running a few weeks late this year. Apples JUST arrived.
Never underestimate the cheesy poof. Powdered cheese product should be a food group. Anyone who disagrees is an asshole.

Ann said...

I love the look of these! They look so moist and glaze-y...YUM-E!

Brooke said...

Ya know, you have a sister that's always available to help you consume plums...in any form, but especially upside down cakes. I love anything with its ass in the air.

Why am I thinking Grandma Flo had a breast cancer scare? Am I hallucinating again?

Heather said...

Scary, I was just coming by to say "sup" and I got the beep in my email from your comment. We're like simpatico, you and I.

I love plums. Fucking love them. But ONLY when they're totally ripe. Then I'll just smear them across a pork chop with some black pepper. This'll work, too.

Peabody said...

Way to use those plums. They look delish.

cook eat FRET said...

now i need 4" ramekins
damn you

peter said...

Those look wicked. The plums were done when we went a-pickin' on Sunday, but it's just as well because I had all I could handle with the apples and peaches.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Yum...Those look and sound amazing! A whole case of plums though...You may have been high?

matt wright said...

Yes.. post a rough routine for the sorbet!!!

Really great looking plum cake. You are making me hungry. Stop it.

7th grade humor is the best in the world though! well, almost. Our two year old son now says boobies, and it is pretty hysterical.

Grace said...

what a great use for your plums! they're so sweet and luscious, it's a shame that most of the time the only way they get served as dessert is grilled. i'm loving this. :)

Peter M said...

That case will finish in no time..Heather will help ya and alas, we can only pretend to nibble on these.

Elle said...

How adorable! I like that you used some brandy with the fruit for what became the topping...looks super yummy!

Brittany said...

Ann- and moistey and glazey they are...were.

Brooke- well, thanks for making me look like an asshole and calling me out on that one. Yes, I do believe great-grandma Flo had a bout with breast cancer and even had one of 'em removed. We were so young at the time, and she lived for so many years after that, I completely forgot about it. Everyone: my sister has just pointed out that I am a liar, and there IS a case of breast cancer that affected a woman a cared very deeply for. Seriously. Grandma Flo was the shit. She was the first female race car driver west of the Mississippi and cussed like a sailor. That alone should speak volumes for her awesomeness. Now I think I need to go throw back a shot of scotch in her honor...she'd approve of that. I feel like such a turd now.

Heather- It's creepy how close this interweb makes you feel to peeps. Savory plums--hell yeah. I think I have just enough left to rub up with some pork.

Peabody- I'm using 'em like it's nobody's bizniss. I'm down to less than a dozen!

Claudia- Mwah mwah mwah!
That being said: I don't wanna harsh your shopping gig, but you could totally make this as one big cake. Just sayin'

Peter- You still have peaches? Jealous.

Judy- Yeah I should stop hitting the chronic before making large produce purchases.

Matt- Ok, It's been decided. A "sorbet guidelines" (no recipe, per se) post is in the works. Maybe I'll throw in a fart joke or two.

Grace- don't knock a grilled plum!

Peter M.- The end is nigh.

Elle- I almost never make a plum dessert without a splash of Armagnac. The two were made for eachother.

RecipeGirl said...

These are darling. And plum jelly? That sounds great too!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Jam woman, jam!
Upside-down cakes are allways great, and little ones like those are even better!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Those look delicious! You are amazing! I am usually not into plums, but this year I have been a convert! I shoulda made something desserty with them!

peter said...

Hey... what about a slivovitz caramel? Or a glaze? Or you could pour it over the tarts and SET THEM ON FIRE!!!!!

I like slivovitz. For baking.

Brittany said...

Recipe girl- If you are REALLY interseted, you can dig through my archives and find the recipe in the Sept '07 section. Or just google either Greg Atkinson or Northwest Essentials. The recipe oughtta be in there somewhere. And yes, it's really really good...

Clumsy cookie- I agree. There is just something about individual desserts. They make you feel special

Jenn- now you have a whole year to come up with the bestest dessert-y plum recipe EVER.

Peter- you are a crazy mutherfucker. You know it too. I can tell.

Thanks Norm!