Friday, August 29, 2014

Oatmeal Plum Crumb Cake

We’re at that odd point in the season where summer is rapidly coming to a close but fall hasn’t quite arrived.  We treasure the days of sunshine but can almost detect a chill about to come and the scent of apples and spice baking in the oven.  There’ll be plenty of time for pears and chocolate and pumpkin in the months ahead, but for now, let’s take some time to cling to the next family about to leave town, the Plums.

I seem to be making a lot of cakes lately.  But this one is more of a brunch type pastry.  It’s made with a touch of oatmeal to please us oat lovers and to add a bit of chewy texture.  And since I’m on this fresh plum jag lately, I had to include some of those deliciously tart gems.  I’ve also topped the whole thing with a spiced oat crumb streusel for another layer of texture and to mediate the tartness of the plums.  I think the cake has just the right touch of the complementary flavors of cinnamon and almond extract to make it pop. 

Do grab a fork and pass the coffee.  It’s time to savor these warm days and cool nights.  The Plum Family is nearly on their way.

Bench notes:
- I prefer springform pans when there is a streusel or crumb topping to prevent disrupting it while removing the cake from the pan.
- After creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl half-way through.  You’re ready to add the second egg when it looks completely combined and there is no shiny egg sheen on the batter.  When you add the vanilla and almond extract, it may look a bit curdled but that will iron out when you add the dry ingredients.
- Plums should be ripe but firm.  If they’re overripe, they’ll mush up the cake.  Cut them into 1/2” slices so they bake to a nice texture by the time the cake is ready.
- When you test the cake for doneness, test it toward the center in an area that is cake, avoiding the plums. 

Oatmeal Plum Crumb Cake
Serves 8 to 10

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) flour
1/3 cup (1 oz) old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons (26 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons (26 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon molasses

3 fresh plums (about 10 oz)                                                                     
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 3/4 oz) flour
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder                                                                   
1/4 teaspoon baking soda    
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature                       
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed                                                                
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
2 large eggs @ room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                                             
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup (2 oz) milk @ room temperature

powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9” springform cake pan.

For the crumb topping, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add melted butter and molasses and stir with a fork just until the mixture clumps together and is crumbly with large and small chunks. Chill until ready to use.

Cut the plums into 1/2” slices and set aside. 

For the cake, whisk together the flour, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 – 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and add vanilla and almond extracts.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with half the milk and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.  Press the plum slices about 3/4 of the way into the batter.  Sprinkle the crumb topping over the entire cake.  

Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 45 - 50 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Then run a thin knife around the edge of the cake and remove the springform cake pan ring.  Cool completely.  Sprinkle with a very light dusting of powdered sugar.


Beth said...

Your cake looks wonderful! What a great way to bring plums into your baking.

Heather said...

What a beautiful coffee cake! Looks like a perfect weekend breakfast!