Plums! Here it is, plum season. There can be something a little sad about plums; their appearance in the fall whispers a warning of wet mulchy leaves and frost. But I close my ears to that breath of winter and think only of sweet summer sunshine.
There were so many varieties at the farmer’s market last weekend that I hardly knew just where to turn. Italian plums, Damson plums, a treasure trove of beauties of every color from deep purply black to pale yellow. The sign said, “please sample,” and I was just one of a row of samplers savoring the tart-sweet plums.
There was a box of tiny, multicolored wild plums, no bigger than cherries. They were every color of blush, delicate as a little girl’s cheek. They looked like a jewel box spilling rubies, citrine, garnets and moonstones.
Years ago, I had a very enlightened boss who would often say to us, “I’ll give you the what, you decide the how.”
I had my what: tiny, perfect plums that I was scooping tenderly into a bag. Then it was only a matter of deciding the how. How best to use this gorgeous fruit? I knew the perfect how would become evident, and after browsing through a few of my cookbooks, it did.
A buckle is a single layer cake that has a lot of fruit in it, giving it a bit of a wrinkled or buckled appearance. This recipe originally called for huckleberries, but adapted perfectly to small, tart plums. The cake is moist and dense, a bit tangy from the yogurt, and not overly sweet. The plum halves hold their shape quite well, studding the cake with their beautiful color and bursts of flavor.
You could call this a coffee cake and serve it for breakfast or brunch without hearing any protests.
Wild Plum Buckle
(adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson)
1-3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup plain whole yogurt
3 cups wild plums, halved and pitted
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan.
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the yogurt in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Gently fold in two cups of the plums. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Distribute the remaining cup of plums over the cake, cut sides down.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack and applying the vanilla drizzle.
To make the vanilla drizzle, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the buckle while it is still warm.
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