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.
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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a springform pan and line with parchment paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the softened butter, sugar, vanilla and 2 teaspoons of the black pepper until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time until blended.
In another bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, the almond flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper.
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.
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.
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.
2 tablespoons red currant jelly, melted to brush on crust
3 ripe, but firm pears, cored, peeled and thickly sliced
3 pluots or plums, cored and thickly sliced (or small tart apples)
1/2 cup demerara or other dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
Grainy raw sugar to sprinkle over top of tart after baking
Place spelt flour in a food processor along with the butter pieces and vanilla bean powder. Process until mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add maple syrup and egg yolk. Process until a dough forms. (Add ice water if needed) Remove dough from food processor and form into a flatten disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface into a large round. Fit into a 9 inch springform pan, folding extra dough to inside to form a thicker crust all around. Prick the bottom of the crust and chill for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
When filling ingredients are ready remove tart shell from the refrigerator and spread the bottom with the melted red currant jelly.
Fill tart shell with fruit, and then sprinkle the demerara sugar over the fruit. Top with butter pieces.. Bake until fruit is fork tender, not mushy, about 40 minutes. Fruit will begin to caramelize just a bit. Remove from oven and dust with grainy raw sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Notes: You can make this tart with all pears or pears and apples as well. Great Holiday dessert.
Fruit with pits….Stone fruit….Drupes….all names for a group of plentiful Summer fruits such as peaches, plums, cherries and apricots. Pluots are a hybrid of plums and apricots. My friend Mark has a tree with hundreds of these beauties hanging heavy and ripe that he was so gracious to share with me. The Rainier Cherries I picked up at a local market. Don’t the cherries look like wee pluots?
I made this cake last week when the temp got down to the high 70’s and low 80’s during the day. I did not mind turning on the oven for a bit to make this simple skillet cake with my stash of stone fruit.
A generous smearing of softened butter on the skillet surface first, then the sliced pluots & cherries to cover the bottom.
This batter is a cross between traditional cake & cornbread batters. Orange Flower water & vanilla extract added to the batter created a wonderful aroma in my kitchen while it was baking.
Is there anything not made better with a bit of Maple Syrup drizzled on top?
Warm, moist, aromatic & fruity with a cake texture and a hint of the cornmeal crunch. A bit more drizzle on each serving. A good brunch cake or for the late afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea when we all need a break. Here….have a bite.
A Summer Cornmeal Skillet Cake with a Maple Syrup Drizzle
8-10 pitted Rainier Cherries, cut in half if large or left whole if small
Maple Syrup to drizzle over the warm cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 8 or 10 inch black iron skillet.
Cover the bottom of the skillet with pluots slices and cherries.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour & brown sugar.
To the bowl add the eggs, Vanilla extract, Orange Flower water and enough of the buttermilk or whole milk to create a batter.
Pour batter over the stone fruit in the skillet.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until the center of the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Adjust baking time to suit your oven. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.
Turn cake upside down on a serving plate and drizzle with pure Maple Syrup.
Serve cut into slices with additional drizzle if desired.