10.22.2014

Italian Prune Plums + The Torte



Chances are, you've seen this recipe before. Published by the New York Times in early fall every year beginning in 1982, until 1989, when Marian Burros announced that it would be printed for the last time. She received a flood of angry letters, "I look for the plum torte each year, as I look for the Declaration of Independence on the back page on the Fourth of July and expect a wild crossword puzzle on April Fool's Day".


The editors promised to make the recipe easily available for each plum season to come.









If you didn't clip it out of the New York Times, maybe you've seen the recipe written about here or here or here, or on countless other blogs, in a number of variations. One substituting most of the butter with mashed ripe bananas. Other versions using raspberries, apricots, or blueberries, in place of plums.


As The Last Food Blogger on Earth to Try the Torte, I learned just why this recipe is so well-loved. Incredibly simple to make, the butter-rich batter envelops prune plum halves. Sugar sprinkled over the top creates a delicate cinnamon scented crust.


But, if at all possible, wait until the next day before eating, allowing the plum juices to be absorbed into the surrounding cake, bringing it to its ideal texture, with an abundance of softened, crimson colored jammy pockets of fruit.








Marian Burros and Lois Levine's Purple Plum Torte

Ideal with Italian prune plums, but alternatively, you could use another variety of plum, or try apples, cranberries, or pears. In the original recipe, Burros says an 8, 9, or 10-inch springform pan may be used. I also baked individual cakes in these baking papers.



1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (preferably aluminum-free)
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
10 to 12 Italian prune plums, halved
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons sanding sugar (or Turbinado or granulated sugar)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more if you like

Heat oven to 350°. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Spread batter into a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan, smoothing the top. Arrange the plum halves, skin side up on the batter, closely together to cover as much of the batter as possible. Sprinkle with lemon juice, followed by the cinnamon, and lastly with the sanding sugar.

Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter (but of course not plum juice), about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack. Carefully run a small spatula along the edge of the pan to loosen the cake before releasing the springform.

If you can, wait until the next day before serving, (highly recommended!), keeping the cake covered on the counter at room temperature overnight.












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