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The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

Cooking Blog

Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 

 

Purple Plum Torte

john barry

Saturday morning breakfast. 

Saturday morning breakfast. 

Purple plum torte from the New York Times food section.  This recipe has been on my radar for years, perhaps decades.  It is, apparently, the most popular recipe to ever be printed (and reprinted and reprinted and reprinted) in the New York Times.  And, like many other things that I should have started making YEARS ago, I finally see what all the hype is about.  

My enthusiastic helper.

My enthusiastic helper.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to make this cake, torte, whatever you want to call it.  It’s made an appearance on just about all of my favorite food blogs and websites over the years and of course, in the Times. Recently, I bought The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and there it was again. The recipe calls for Italian Prune Plums - which I rarely see - but since we are smack dab in the middle of plum season, I thought I might finally make the cake with whatever plums I could find.

Then, last Friday, I walked into the farmstand by my office, and the first thing I saw was a sign for Italian Prune Plums. On sale! It was destiny.

Ready to go into the oven.

Ready to go into the oven.

I made the recipe in two 6-inch cake pans.  I love my 6-inch cake pans because, with the exception of this little number, we can never finish a full-sized cake.  Also because we probably shouldn’t. Most recipes that call for an 8 or 9 inch cake pan can be cut in half to make a 6 inch cake.  Or you can easily make two 6-inch cakes and save one for later (cakes freeze well), give one away, or let your husband dig into one while the other stays pristine for the dinner party you planned on serving it at. I cannot tell you the number of times Paul has tried to convince me that it’s ok to serve a dessert with a slice missing. NOOOOOO.

In this case, I didn’t end up needing my 6 inch cake pans because, somehow, we polished both of these plum cakes off in a weekend. What can I say? It’s a versatile little torte. Reminiscent of a coffee cake, and similarly good for breakfast or an afternoon snack, but also good with ice cream, creme fraiche, or whipped cream as a full blown dessert. It’s also really, really, easy to make. So I see its popularity, the payoff is really quite big for the effort involved.

I read somewhere that it is best to let it rest for several hours or overnight to let the plum juices release into the cake before digging in. This sounded reasonable to me, so I made it on Friday night and we enjoyed it for breakfast on Saturday.  It was jammy and delicious.  I finally understood what the big deal was. I know I’ll be making it again soon and I’m sure it will be delicious even if I can’t get Italian Prune Plums again until next year.

So it's not the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but wait until you taste it. 

So it's not the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but wait until you taste it. 

Purple Plum Torte

The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser

Ingredients

  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

  3. Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches (or two 6 inch pans). Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon. I added cardamom as well because I’m a cardamom junkie, especially with stone fruits.

  4. Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)

The aftermath. Worth it. 

The aftermath. Worth it.