Rainy Days Call for Baking
Julia and I spent a few days in Dover, NJ in August visiting my mom Nancy and sister Jennifer. It was kind of cold and rainy and we didn't end up doing much swimming which we had hoped for. But we did have time for baking. I don't do too much baking here on the farm. The Farmer doesn't like sweets (must be how he stays thin) and Julia has juvenille diabetes so we have to watch everything she eats. Me, I just don't need the extra calories. We save baking for when we have guests. It's too bad because Julia loves to mix and stir and make a general white fluffy mess. I see beautiful baked goods all over the web - especially over at Yarnstorm - and it makes me slightly sad we don't do much of it here. When I was a kid, my sisters and I were always making some kind of mess in the kitchen. Patient Mom!
I picked up these small Italian plums at my favorite market Foster's in Greenfield before I left. I look forward to Italian plum season each year - it zips by in a flash. (I call them Italian because that's what Gram called them - they must have another name - anyone know?) When I was a little girl, I always loved my grandmother's plum cake. And I love plum chutney with pork!
A couple of years ago, I discovered this Cornmeal Plum Cake recipe in an issue of Country Home and I have been putting my own spin on it for the past few summers. It has a great texture because of the cornmeal - a little crunchy and not too sweet. The original recipe called for plums but I have used different combinations of peaches, raspberries, blueberries, nectarines, plums, even apples. If you use berries, don't cook them - just put them in fresh because they will become too mushy. I have used underripe fruit and the cooking usually makes them softer and not so sour. This is a very moist cake with a bit of a nice crunch from the cornmeal. Keep it fresh in the refrigerator because of all the eggs and sour cream. It makes a lovely breakfast too.
Cornmeal Fruit Cake
3 TB. butter
4 cups fruit
2 TB. sugar
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
Butter a 9" springform pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook fruit in butter over medium heat in a flat saute pan for about 4 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Stir in sugar. If using berries, do not cook. Set aside.
Stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Then add eggs separately beating after each addition. Add sour cream or yogurt. Fold in flour/cornmeal mixture.
Pour 2/3 of batter into bottom of springform pan. Add fruit mixture. Spoon remaining batter on top of fruit letting bits of the fruit show through. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. sugar to make a crunchy top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove springform sides and cool 30 minutes more.