05 September 2011

Chocolate Yellow Plum Cake

Happy Labor Day weekend, America!  Time to welcome the best season of the year-- fall.  Okay, so it may not be time for sweaters or foliage just yet, but Labor Day picnics means crisp air and the triple threat of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas won't be far behind.

Here in Portugal this weekend is not a holiday, but it does mark the transition back into normal work mode and out of August.  For BB, it means his commute just got harder thanks to the extra traffic of people taking their kids to school every morning. (No school buses.)

For me, a grateful telecommuter, it means reintroducing myself to my baking equipment and fiddling around with after school-- errr, after work-- snack cakes.

September in Portugal is summery warm.  One of the great things about that extended warmth is the still-bountiful amounts of summer fruit hanging around the grocery store.  When I saw these gorgeous yellow-skinned plums, I had to get them and find some way to bake them up.

What ensued was a mashup of two ideas.  Rose Levy Berenbaum's Flame Plum Tart suggests cutting and arranging the plums as shown here, tips up, to create a flickering flame effect on the top of a cold tart. Delightful idea!  I wanted something a bit more casual than a three-layer spectacular Berenbaum tart, though.

So as I leafed through recipes, the second idea came to me.  You have seen inside-out chocolate chip cookies?  This is my version, with plums.  Instead of a yellow cake and dark fruit, just reverse it.  And add chocolate.


The end result is a tasty everyday cake that would be a decadent breakfast or a yummy afternoon treat with a glass of milk.  The plums are tart and make you feel vaguely virtuous as you wolf down the dark cake.

And after Labor Day grilling festivities are over, this could be just the cake to make an everyday September week feel cozy and warm.

Chocolate Yellow Plum Cake
serves 8
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil (canola, safflower, etc.)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
6-7 golden plums, pitted and quartered
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Butter and flour an 8- or 9-inch deep pie plate or casserole.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt.

3. Beat the softened butter for about 3 minutes, until soft and smooth.  Add the sugar and beat for another few minutes until the mixture is creamy.  Then add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  At the end, beat in the oil and vanilla.  All this beating should make the batter satiny and super smooth.

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter mixing only until fully incorporated.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Arrange the plum quarters on top of the cake in a circular pattern, trying to keep on tip pointing higher than the other as you place each one.  Push gently into the batter as you go along.

6. Sprinkle the plums with the granulated sugar and bake the cake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (With all the plums, the edges cook a lot faster than the center, so be sure to check the middle!)

7. Cool for 10-15 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.  (I didn't even want to try to unmold this and ruin the plums, so I left it in the pan.  If you want to unmold, you want to cool the cake almost completely before trying.  All the plum juice means that the cake is fragile in some parts.)


  1. What a delicious dessert!! Unfortunately I am on a diet now :-(

  2. Oh no!! That sounds like an impossibility in your home, with all your delicious cakes! Maybe you can try a salad-for-lunch, cake-for-dinner diet? It is my favorite. :)