Bonjour, mes amis! Et bienvenus to Mised Out!
This week, we continue to move off the beaten path of French desserts. Earlier this month, we explored a crème au citron and a tarte aux myrtilles. Next up is one of my personal favorites – a gâteau aux prunes. Or “plum cake” in English. (Yes, the French call plums prunes. Confusing, non?)
I love gâteau aux prunes. Simple in design, this cake packs loads of flavor. Sweet almonds and the tart plums create a flavor waltz that whispers of warm summer evenings amidst vineyards and châteaux. Most of all though, I love this cake because it truly celebrates a glorious late summer, fleeting fruit in a straightforward and embracing way.
Les quetsches – Italian plums – are a short-lived marvel of August. Oval in shape, vibrant in color and flavor, these little gems are the star in a gâteau aux prunes. It can be difficult to find these in supermarkets, but your local farmers’ market will likely have these purple jewels from late July through late August. If you see them, grab them. You won’t be disappointed.
Their limited availability makes this cake even more special. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have plum cake at other times too – the common Asian plums which we have the States are a very suitable substitute. A bit of brandy and blackberry jam (my personal favorite, but you can also use raspberry or red current jelly) help augment any type of plum to guarantee this cake is the star of your meal. And if your plums are a little under ripe, the sweet jelly and brandy syrup ensures that the cake doesn’t end up too tart or sour.
And now chers lecteurs, without further adieu Gâteau aux Prunes.
Gâteau aux prunes
- 1 springform pan
- 3 tbsp brandy
- 2 tbsp red current jelly may substituted seedless raspberry or blackberry jam
- 1 lb Italian prune plums halved and pitted
- ¾ C sugar
- ¼ C almond flour
- ¾ C all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter cut into pieces and softened
- 1 large egg plus 1 large york room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- Confectioners' sugar
- Cook brandy and jelly in 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until thick and syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and place plums cut side down in syrup. Return skillet to medium heat and cook, shaking pan to prevent plums from sticking, until plums release their juices and liquid reduces to thick syrup, about 5 minutes. Let plums cool in skillet, about 20 minutes.
- While plums are cooling, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
- With a fork, mix sugar and almond flour together. Mix in all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and using the tips of your fingers, crumble until the pieces are the size of oats. Add the egg and yolk, vanilla and almond extracts and mix with a fork until smooth. The batter will be thick and somewhat sticky to the touch.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pan with a rubber spatula. Arrange the plums, skin side down, forming a ring around the outer edge of the batter and decoratively arranging the remaining plums in the center of the batter.
- Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with few crumbs attached – about 50 minutes. (If you are unsure, it is better to over bake by a few minutes.)
- Run a thin knife around the sides of the cake to loosen. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack until just warm or to room temperature. Remove sides of pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.