Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake


I'm not real happy with this photo - I had lost all the natural light by the time the cake was ready to be cut (and I haven't learned enough about my new camera to figure out how to compensate). It looks wonderful in the book, however, and I knew the flavors of plums, cardamom and orange would come together beautifully. The recipe calls for ground cardamom and I was pretty sure I had bought some cardamom seeds for some recipe I made ages ago (and I'm thinking at least 5 years or so). As I'm sure most of you foodies out there are aware, there is some sort of statute of limitations on how long spices hold their flavor. I don't have any idea as to how long that may be because I keep them around despite this "rule" and they always seem just fine to me. Case in point, my cardamom seeds - after I unearthed the jar from the deepest darkest reaches of my spice cabinet - were still incredibly fragrant. The only challenge was to grind them up to put in the cake. I'm sure you all have received gifts from people and wondered "when the heck am I ever going to use this" and consider pulling a classic Seinfeld "re-gift"? Well, might I suggest you rethink that strategy in the future - you never know when that gift might come in handy. From another deep, dark corner of the same cabinet, I pulled out a gift I've had for years and never used: a mortar and pestle set and it worked like a charm for the task at hand:




All I ended up having to buy for the recipe was one orange and the plums (which were on sale this week - Prudy would be so proud!).



This made for a pleasant change over the cost of the last TWD which was filled with lots of delicious, but expensive chocolates (white, semi-sweet, bittersweet you name it!). As a side note, you really, really must make those cookies, they were divine - just make sure to have a glass of milk on hand to accompany them, they're pretty rich.

This cake came together very easily as Dorie follows a pretty straightforward cake baking protocol. I have to tell you that before I even I got this cake in the oven, the house smelled amazing - cardamom has an exotic, but somehow at the same time homey, fragrance that's hard to describe (as if that weren't obvious from the oxymoron I just wrote, sheesh...).

The cake looks lovely with all the plums on top doesn't it? The recipe calls for 8 plums, but I could only smoosh 7 into my 8x8 pan, and that's only after I quartered the seventh one.


Dorie says to bake this for 40 minutes, but at 40, the knife I used to check it with came out fully coated in batter. I left it in for 5 more minutes, but it probably could have used more. Unfortunately, the tops were getting quite brown and I didn't want to risk drying out the edges. As a result, the middle pieces were a little underdone. I wonder if this was because my plums may still have been cold from the fridge when I placed them on top of the batter? My advice would be to let your fruit come to room temp before making this.

My girls really liked this cake the night I made it and ate it while it was still warm. I think I actually liked it better the following morning after the flavors of the orange and cardamom really came together.
A question for my fellow TWDers out there - can anyone tell me why Dorie calls this cake "Dimply"? I've just been wondering since I read the recipe. Is it the plums - do they have a dimple? Sorry, maybe I'm just clueless on this one.

Thanks to Michelle of Bake-en for selecting this week's recipe. My take on this is that it's a great breakfasty-type cake which is quite nice with a cup of coffee and a friend :-)

17 comments:

Cathy said...

Look at those dimples! Laura, I believe that by "dimples" she means the bits of cake that puff up on top around the fruit after it bakes -- and you've got dimples in spades, my friend. I think your first picture is gorgeous! That's the first thing I thought, before reading that you didn't like the picture, so I went back and looked at it again. Still gorgeous! I have serious mortar and pestle envy -- aren't you glad you didn't regift? Although I sure hope that someone regifts a mortar and pestle set to me someday. Anyway, your cake is GORGEOUS and I am glad that it was a hit! Oh, and nearly everyone had that "undercooked" problem, as far as I can tell!

Prudy said...

I loved your commentary on the cardamom. Statute of limitations made me laugh out loud. Are you crazy-your pictures are heavenly! Your cake looks absolutely gorgeous. The dark skin on the plums made a lovely contrast. I'm glad your family enjoyed it and of course I am proud for your good money saving!:)

Jamie said...

Beautiful dimples! I so want a mortar and pestle! Gorgeous cake!

Lori said...

nah - my plums were room temperature and the same thing happened to me. i think it's just a hazard of this recipe. great looking cake!

Flourchild said...

I love your cake...what a beauty. I will make this one again but Im going to try pears next.

Pamela said...

I've never baked with cardamom, Laura. I certainly would like to give it a try, though. The cake looks wonderful, and I'm glad that those who tried it enjoyed it.

n.o.e said...

I loved your post. And congrats for jamming 7 plums up on top - it's the sinking of the plums that make the dimples, I think. The cardamom was the star, imo. Great cake, great photos. I bought an inexpensive mortar and pestle at an Asian import store, but have now acquired an electric spice mill (a dedicated coffee grinder just for my spices. mine. no sharing with hubby), and wow, does that make quick work of grinding lots of spices.
Nancy

HoneyB said...

Your cake looks lovely!

Emily said...

This looks divine. I have never thought of baking with plums before, but after this, IT IS ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT! now I want to make one!

Peggy said...

Loved your mortar and pestle. Now I'm envious! I just used already smashed cardamom!! I think your cake looks lovely.

Engineer Baker said...

Lucky you to have a mortar, pestle, and whole cardamom! Quite a beautiful cake.

Christine said...

I have got to get one of the mortars and pestle I so want one! Your cake and pics are perfect wonderful dimples!

SiHaN said...

i think they look more like pimpley encounter of a teenager undergoing puberty that's why. BUt then again, pimples don't come in straight rows.. haha. Your cake looks divine by the way! I didn't get the undercooked problem. Perhaps it's because i used a smaller proportion of batter with respect to my pan size.

Jaime said...

i love that last photo!

email me about the lighting thing and i might be able to help a little

Matt's Kitchen said...

All of your photos were beautiful.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who hasn't figured out all of the features of a camera. I'm worried as the daylight hours get shorter. I have no clue how I'm going to take decent pictures without daylight...

Barbara said...

Still love your picture! On my camera it's called the White Balance adjustment. Yours might have a different name. Make friends with it and indoor pictures don't look so yellow!

Jennifer said...

Mmmm - I love cardamon... my mom makes a great cardamon loaf of bread!!!