It takes just a few seconds to mix the flour, sugar and almonds for this fast, food-processor cake, then you blend in the remaining ingredients. You can bake the cake in a springform pan or in a loaf pan, like a pound cake.
Made without the plum topping, the cake freezes well. (It is best not to freeze the cake with the fruit, because it becomes mushy when defrosted.) For best results, wrap the cake carefully in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing it, and defrost it in the refrigerator while still wrapped.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unblanched whole almonds
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
4–6 ripe plums, preferably Black Friar or Santa Rosa (1 1/4 pounds)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plum jam
1 tablespoon plum brandy or Calvados
Preheat the oven to 350º F, with a rack in the center. Butter a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter.
FOR THE CAKE
- Process the flour, almonds, sugar, and baking powder in a food processor until the mixture is a coarse powder.
- Add the vanilla, the remaining butter, the oil and eggs, and process for a few seconds, just until incorporated.
- Add the milk and process for a few seconds, until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
FOR THE TOPPING:
- Using the point of a sharp knife, remove the pit from the stem end of each plum. (If the plums are not fully ripened and feel hard, prick them all over with the point of a sharp knife to soften them.)
- Rinse the whole plums well under cold water.
- While they are still wet, roll them in the sugar.
- Arrange the plums on top of the cake, spacing them evenly, and push them down into the batter until the bottom half of each is immersed.
Place the cake on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until puffy and nicely browned on top. Cool on a rack to lukewarm.
Mix the plum jam and brandy together in a small bowl and brush the top of the lukewarm cake with the mixture. Remove the sides of the pan and cut the cake into 6 to 8 wedges, so that each serving contains at least half a plum. Serve warm or just at room temperature.
Jacques Pépin is a world renowned French chef, instructor and cookbook author who hosts the KQED cooking series Essential Pépin. The recipe for quick almond and plum cake is reprinted from the cookbook, Essential Pépin, with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co.
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Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.