You know that summer is drawing to a close when British plums come into season (I have mixed feelings of both loss & excitement about this). Available from mid-august through to October, plums are one of the juiciest of all stone fruits, a real late summer treat to lead us into autumn.
Whilst plums can vary in colour, everything from yellow, green, red & ,most commonly, deep purple, British plums generally fall into one of two groups, sweet & sweet-sour. The sweeter variety (such as greengages of Victoria plums) are more of a dessert plum, the kind that are enjoyed as is. The sweet-sour variety (such as damsons & Czars) are more tart in flavour & far better suited to cooking.
Whatever the variety though, they’re all great in things like jams, chutneys & crumbles. But one of my favourite late summer treats is my simple, comforting plum cake. A rustic, hearty cake, the kind that wouldn’t look out of place at a picnic or bake sale.
A simple, light, fluffy sponge is given a little heat & warmth from fresh ginger, a subtle nod to the cooler, longer nights ahead as we return to the pantry spices (yes, the Christmas countdown is on!). The top of the cake is plum-packed with colourful, seasonal varieties, adding pretty decoration & juicy sweetness.
Whilst the sun still shines but the leaves begin to lose their colour, this cake is a perfect harmony between the seasons, hints of what’s left of British summertimes with sights firmly set on the coming autumn months ahead. A quick & easy cake to throw together, best enjoyed with a cup of tea as the evening begins to hold a slight chill (throw in the odd blanket & candle for all the autumnal vibes though).
PLUM & GINGER CAKE
(makes one 20cm cake)
- 120g butter
- 150g soft light soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 30g fresh ginger, peeled & grated
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 7-8 plums, stoned & halved
- 2 tbsp demerara suger
- Grease & line a round 20cm cake tin with baking parchment
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter & light soft brown sugar until light & pale
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition
- Add the vanilla extract & ginger to the bowl & stir through
- Sift the flour & baking powder into the bowl & beat until well incorporated & there are no more pockets of dry flour
- Stir the milk through the mixture until it reaches a good dropping consistency (you can add a little more if needed)
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin & spread evenly
- Carefully arrange the plum halves on top of the cake, placing them on rather than pushing them into the batter
- Sprinkle over the demerara sugar
- Bake the cake at 180°C for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until golden & a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly when removed
- Once baked, remove from the oven & allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in its tin before running a knife along its edge & releasing the clip
- Remove the cake & place on a cooling rack to cool