|This is the Hudson's Golden Gem variety|
Friday, August 28, 2015
by Sheila Connolly
Apple season is almost upon us, so why am I talking about plums? Because they just appeared in our market, and they were so darn cute! So here's the last hurrah for summer.
Technically, these are prune plums—you know, those little ones that you can dry and eat, or that you can stew. When I was young, they were said to be good for the digestion, a theory my mother subscribed to. I was not impressed. But I don’t remember ever seeing the raw variety, which would have been a great size for a kid.
There are various recipes for these little cuties, but this one is fairly simple, and the hazelnut flavor goes nicely with the fruit.
Plum Hazelnut Torte
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
1-1/2 pounds prune plums
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (you can add a little hazelnut extract if you have it)
Quarter and pit the plums (the pits come out easily). Coarsely chop half of them, put them in a bowl, and toss with 2 Tblsp sugar.
In another bowl, combine the remaining plums (not chopped) with 2 Tblsp sugar.
On a baking sheet or pan, in the middle of the oven, lightly toast the hazelnuts in a single layer (until you can smell them and they look golden—do not let them burn!). This should take 10-15 minutes. Cool the nuts, then grind them fine in a food processor. [Note: if you toast hazelnuts with the skins on, then rub them between your palms—let them cook first!--most of the skin will flake off.]
Whisk together the ground hazelnuts, flour, baking powder and salt.
In a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) beat the butter and the remaining sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla and the flour mixture until just combined (do not overbeat).
Drain the chopped plums in a sieve, pressing on the fruit to get out most of the liquid, and then pat them dry. (If you don’t the cake will be soggy and won’t cook through.) Stir the plums into the batter and spread in the prepared pan.
Drain the quartered plums the same way, then arrange them, skin side up, over the batter.
Bake the torte in the middle of the oven for 1 hr 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown and a tester poked in the middle comes out clean.
Cool the torte in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Remove the sides or rim of the pan and let the torte cool completely.
You can serve this with whipped cream if you like, or sprinkle some powdered sugar over it. It’s a moist tasty cake so it’s fine on its own.
A Gala Event (Orchard Mystery #9) is coming in just over a month! Just in time for apple harvest season, except the story takes place in December, when the harvest is done--no time for a wedding before that.
By the way, my own orchard (all eight trees) is doing very well this year.