Wild Plums, Pluots and Black (Flower)Pepper Cake

My friend Mark gave me some beautiful just ripe pluots from his tree recently. I picked up a small container of wild plums from the farmer’s market the same day. Both fruit, along with the only black pepper mixture I use in my kitchen, Flower Pepper, which was given to me by another friend, Jesse, are the main ingredients for this very dense, moist everyday cake.

There is a cookbook I purchased last year, A New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi, that I pretty much adore. My recipe is a riff on one of the recipes from her book. I simple cannot say how densely moist it is, how the fruit and the black (flower)pepper create a magical flavor profile. No frosting, nothing la-di-dah about this one. It is a cake for sharing.

The little plums are the wild, the pluots are larger and not wild, but both beautiful.
Just ripe, no peeling necessary.
A thick batter, so the fruit stays right on top along with the almonds and more pepper.

Baked with a finish of real maple syrup brushed on top.
The black (flower)pepper just adds so much to the flavor, not to mention the beauty of this cake.

Wild Plums, Pluots and Black (Flower) Pepper Cake

For the recipe for making your own Flower Pepper, click on the link in the post.


1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup superfine sugar/caster sugar (put in a food processor and pulse a few times to make finer if you do not have caster sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, divided (Flower Pepper or any good quality black pepper)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup whole milk

4-6 ripe small plums, or pluots, or wild plums (can be a mixture of all) pitted and quartered

a small handful of slivered or sliced or chopped almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a springform pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat together the softened butter, sugar, vanilla and 2 teaspoons of the black pepper until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time until blended.
  4. In another bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, the almond flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper.
  5. Add the flour mixture gradually into the butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon stir in the milk until well blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. This batter is rather thick so use your spoon to spread batter evenly.
  6. Arrange the quartered fruit on top of the batter. Just barely push down into the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper over the top of the fruit and then the almonds.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Remove the sides of the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. Right before serving brush the top of the cake with the maple syrup.

This recipe is a slight riff on a recipe in “The New Way to Cake” by Benjamin Ebuehi. Her recipe is “Plum and Black Pepper Cake”. Published by Page Street Publishing.


All-American Baked French Fries with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Although originally from Belgium, Thomas Jefferson was thought to have first served this American favorite in 1802 at the White House. He called them, “Potatoes in the French manner”.

Recently for a photo shoot at my house French Fries were the subject,  but I decided there was no way I was actually going to “fry” them. I don’t like to fry in my house…the smell lingers and I always seem to splatter myself with hot oil. Baking is friendlier and  healthier.  It’s so easy to cut up a few Russet potatoes into long, thin sticks.  A few sheet pans of hand cut potatoes tossed in olive oil and dusted with sea salt and a very generous grinding of cracked black pepper and eating them hot out of the oven, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is a pleasure.

Listen to this wake-up classic version of “Star Spangled Banner” while you work, Jimmy Hendrix playing “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, https://vimeo.com/90907436   

No peeling necessary…..

…lined up side-by-side ready for the oven. After they are baked, turn off the oven and leave them in to keep warm unless you are eating immediately, which I recommend.

Try dipping then in ketchup and mayo all smeared together on a platter. This is how we do it. Wouter likes mayo, I like both.

All-American Baked French Fries with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

  • Servings: 4
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  • 4 large baking potatoes, Russet potatoes, rinsed and patted dry
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • one lemon, cut into quarters
  • ketchup and mayo if you like


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut unpeeled potatoes into sticks. They will all end up being odd shapes and not uniform for the most part, but that’s how hand-cut fries are.
  3. In a large bowl toss together a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and a generous grind of black pepper. (at this point you could also add other herbs or garlic, etc if you like).
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with olive oil or vegetable spray.
  5. Spread cut potatoes out flat on parchment lined pans. Do not overlap.
  6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Turn pans around in oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes or until crisped and browned. Serve immediately or keep in turned-off warm oven until ready.
  7. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon and your favorite condiments…we like ketchup and mayonnaise together.

Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com