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Plum Almond Cake

I’ve been making the well-known plum cake from Marian Burros and the New York Times for years, but recently decided to try a similar one in Domenica Marchetti’s cookbook “Rustic Italian.” Her recipes are always winners and this was no exception. It incorporates a little almond flour in addition to all-purpose flour, but what really sets this apart is the sugary-almond topping nestled over the plums. The crunchy coating takes it over the top, although it loses its crispness when it sits overnight. No problem, because it’s so delicious, you’re not likely to have any leftovers the next day.

It uses Italian prune plums, and although Domenica’s recipe calls for nine of them, mine were smaller and I needed a lot more to fill the pan. It’s a cinch to remove the pits. Just slice down the middle, twist each half in the opposite direction, and pull out the pit. Lay the plums over the batter cut side up.

Top with the almond-butter-sugar coating and bake.

The crumb is really tender, the fruit is jammy and the topping is sugary and irresistible. I don’t know what took me so long to make this cake, but it’s now at the top of my list when I have a hankering for a slice of cake. I think this would taste great with apricots, peaches or other fruits too when Italian prune plums are hard to find. Grazie mille, cara Domenica.

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Plum Almond Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup sunflower or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup half and half or whole milk
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 9 Italian plums, halved and pitted (or more if they're small)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8-inch springform pan. Dust tthe pan with flour and tap out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, egg, half and half (or milk), lemon juice and zest, the 1 cup sugar, and almond extract.
  4. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into tthe prepared pan.
  7. Arrange the plum halves, cut side up, on top of the batter.
  8. In a bowl, combine the almonds, the 2 tablespoons sugar and the butter and mix well.
  9. Dot the almond topping over the cake.
  10. Bake until the topping is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the ring from the pan and place the cake on a serving platter.
  13. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
 

Pork Tenderloin with Plums

Pork tenderloin is such an easy and delicious cut of meat that pairs so well with fruit — especially plums. Even if you can’t find these oval-shaped Italian plums that are in season right now, the round ones are fine. The plums I found were quite large, so I cut them in quarters, but next time I’ll just cut them in half, since they will be likely to retain more of their shape that way.

Season the meat (I used a homemade seasoned salt, and pepper) then sear it on the range to brown the outside a bit. It will finish cooking in the oven.

When I first made this, I roasted everything together right from the start. But when the meat and plums were ready, the onions weren’t cooked enough, so I removed the roast and plums and put the onions back in for another 15 minutes. I don’t recommend doing that, since the juices that had released from the meat and plums dried up and the pan started to smoke. Instead, I would start out by cooking the onions alone in the pan for 15 minutes, then add the meat and plums and cook another 20 minutes.

Let the meat rest for at least five minutes before slicing and serving, Take a bite of the plum and the pork in the same forkful, and see if you don’t agree that they were meant for each other.

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Pork Tenderloin with Plums
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • homemade seasoned salt (or use a mixture of salt, dried thyme, parsley, rosemary and sage)
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 3 or 4 plums
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Season the pork with the salt/herb mix and pepper.
  3. Sear it in a pan that has been coated with olive oil, turning it on all sides until it's lightly browned.
  4. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add the onions to the pan, season with salt and pepper (herbed salt if you have it) , drizzle with olive oil, then cook the onions in the oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven, stir the onions a bit and place to one side of the pan, then place the pork in the middle of the pan at a diagonal.
  7. Add the plums on the other side of the pork.
  8. Place the pan back in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and let the pork rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.