Friday, September 23, 2011

Italian Prune Cake

Growing up, we had a few prune trees around the place.

I have since come to realize that they are called Italian Prune Plums, and often used to make the dried prunes that we all know and love (?). When most people think "prune" they think of a shriveled up dried fruit that old people eat. :) Really, a dried prune is a dehydrated (mostly) plum. At least as far as I know. And as many of you already know, that's not all too far.

Back to our prune trees on the Parker Estate: we used to eat prunes right off the tree and loved them! That type of plum is so sweet and tart and yummy. After moving away from home, I sort of forgot about them, until a few years ago when we visited down there and realized that the trees had started bearing fruit again after several prunings that left them barren for some time. We brought a couple flats home with us, and enjoyed them while we had them. I didn't preserve any that time, but the next year, Costco had them! I was so excited. It's almost become a tradition to get some whenever they're in season. And it's a *short* season.

These days, the old prune trees back at home are all gone. So whenever Costco carries these prune plums, I grab at least one container for us to eat. This year, for whatever reason, I decided to see if I could make something out of them.

Enter, the prune cake recipe. Yeah. The recipe. This is why you're here, right? The recipe.

I found this recipe online somewhere and modified a bit. Some call it Prune Coffee Cake, some call it Plum Kuchen (a German coffee cake). If you want to drink coffee with it, knock yourself out. I just call it Italian Prune Cake. And sometimes I drink coffee with it.

If you don't have Italian Prunes, then just use some other plums. Whatever works!

Here's what you need:

1/2 C butter (one stick)
1 C sugar (I used raw sugar)
2 large eggs
1 C flour (I used wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp baking powder
6 or 7 Italian prunes, pitted and quartered (or more to your liking)
1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice

1-1/2 Tbsp Sugar (again I used raw sugar)
1/4 tsp Cinnamon (or just make up some general cinnamon sugar, to your taste)

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Cream together the butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs, followed by flour and baking powder. Beat to mix will and spread into the prepared pan (it's a thick batter). Place plum quarters on top of the batter, close together in circles, covering the batter. Make designs if you want! Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Mix up the cinnamon sugar topping and sprinkle over the top of the plums and batter. Bake on center rack of oven for one hour or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden brown.

Serve warm or cool, preferably with home made sweetened whipped cream (see recipe below).

This is a super yummy cake! The prunes bake down and combine into the batter and are nice and sweet but then you also have the slight tartness of the skin with it -- this is so good. I never thought it would be, but was delightfully surprised.

Here's what the cake looked like before I put it in the oven. I used about 6 prunes on this cake and made little flower patterns. But the last one I made I used 7 or maybe even 8 and put the prunes on in a circular fashion, just around the perimeter and then made circles inside of that big one. I wanted to put on as many as would fit, because when these are cooked into the cake, they are *so* good!

Here's what it looked like after I baked it -- but also after we dug into it. I sort-of forgot to take a shot of what it looked like right out of the oven. So just pretend all the pieces are there.

Since making this recipe twice now, I've frozen a bunch of prunes so that I can make this cake whever I want until they are in season again. (Or until I run out of prunes...)

Hope you have a chance to enjoy this cake! If not, come over to my house and I'll make you some.


p.s. Here is the whipped cream recipe:

Whipped Cream:
1 C heavy whipping cream
1/4 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine ingredients in a cold mixing bowl (or blender).
Mix until blended and peaks form.
If you prefer unsweetened whipped cream, just whip the cream by itself, or don't add as much sugar. It's up to you to make it how you like it!

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