Plum deliciousness

You know I have a long-standing passion for yellow plum jam. Yellow plums are my all time favorite for jamming, and and for eating.

I made 2 batches (20 half pint jars) of ginger/plum/bourbon jam, from just two bowls of plums from my friend Linda. I thought I was done for the year.

Darn kids, I thought. Who’s dropping lunch reject plums on my dried up front lawn? Then I looked up, and realized the truth. The plum trees that I planted 10 years ago, that never produced fruit (well, one tree made two plums about 5 years ago), have decided that this is the year. Maybe they like being heat stressed, or they think they need to reproduce because the heat is going to kill them. Whatever.

I got on a ladder, and picked 19 plums. That’s the harvest, between the two trees. They’re oddly large, and the fruit is firm, like an Italian prune. I think they’re a Japanese plum, but I’m not sure; 2011 was a long time ago. The plums aren’t especially juicy, and they’re fairly tart. I don’t want to make more jam; purple plum jam isn’t as delicious as yellow plum jam, at least to me. What to do?

I put out the question on FB, and the answer was: Plum Torte. The famous NYTimes recipe from Marian Burros, to be precise. I remembered that Smitten Kitchen also had a take on it, and another friend referred to the Food52 version. Excellent references, all. I did a mashup of the three using:

3/4 cup all purpose flour plus 1/4 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch of salt
3/4 granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
5 plums quartered and pitted (because mine are so big)
omitted the fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chunky sugar and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon for garnish

Cream sugar and butter, beat in eggs, beat in dry ingredients. I put mine in an 8” springform pan, because that’s the one I have. Top with plums, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or til done. Cool, remove from pan, celebrate!

I told you the plums are oddly large. The recipes call for 12 small Italian plums, halved, and a 9” pan. If I had halved the plums, I could probably only fit 4 in the pan, so I cut them lengthwise, twice, and made a flower/sunburst with them. They sink into the cake,, so you’d never know, and I forgot to take a picture before baking. I’m not a real food blogger!

We loved this so much, I had to make it a second time, because we still have a few plums left. Also, I wanted to tweak it a bit; I used more corn meal the first time, and it was crunchier than I like. I have medium grind cornmeal, because I use it under pizza on the pizza stone. A finer grind would be ideal, but I don’t use corn meal often enough to have more in the pantry.

This cake is actually for dessert tonight, but I wanted to take a picture for you. And now I have to taste it. Such a sacrifice. Delicious!

18 responses to “Plum deliciousness

  1. Oh, the famous plum cake. I have never tried it. I’ve known about it for 40 years.

  2. If you like cakes with cornmeal, there’s a good blueberry polenta cake, also from NYT, by Nigella Lawson.

  3. Good GRIEF, Michele ! – is there NO END to your creativity ? This tart has me drooling; and you know I’m doing WW.Tsk !! 😀
    I shall boast a bit now: weighed meself this-morning, came in at 88.3kg.
    How alarming ?
    No, the alarming bit is that at the beginning of April I weighed 104.2kg ..

  4. Sounds delicious but I’d like to have the “ginger/plum/bourbon jam” recipe if possible.

    • Hi Helen! The jam is just the recipe inside the Sure Jell Box, and at the end add a generous 1/4 cup bourbon (it will bubble) and 1/4 cup Penzey’s Sweet Ginger Bits.

      I’ve played around with other recipes and pectins, particularly Pomona’s Pectin which can be used with less sugar. But it doesn’t come out with that lovely clear stained glass look. If you search on my blog for plum jam, there are many posts!


  5. Now that I have a working oven, I will have to get some plums and make this. It sounds wonderful!

    • Have fun with it! If you follow the link to the NYTimes recipe, there are lots of great suggestions in the comments. it sounds like any fruit will do!

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  6. Good use for plums! Looks like a good recipe 🙂

  7. I make this every year! Its wonderful, never fails. I use whatever plums are available they all work.

  8. This cake looks delicious. I love Smitten Kitchen’s recipes too.

  9. John And Lori Stephens

    I make a plum and blueberry upside down cake. Best with black plums

    • Oh, yum; that sounds great! A friend just gave me plums from her tree; they’re the little dark prune plums. Is that what you meant by black plums? If yes, would you share your recipe with me?

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  10. Hi Michelle

    I now have a zillion Italian Plums, making the wonderful cake you referenced. What recipe did you use for your Plum Ginger Bourbon Jam? I have a couple recipes in mind, it sounds so good.
    Thank you!

    • Hi, Susan:

      It’s just the Sure Jell boxed pectin recipe for plum jam, and at the end I add a generous 1/4 cup bourbon, and 1/4 cup Penzey’s Sweet Ginger Bits. I pretty much do this for any jam recipe that I want to bourbon-ify; I’ve done it with pear cranberry jam, too. Have fun!

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