by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Marcel Desaulniers
These little cakes could not be any simpler to prepare, and what a great presentation they make too!
Two of my plums were a little riper than I would have liked them to be for this recipe - they tasted fine, I just preferred the texture of the firmer plum after baking.
The batter for this cake is pretty straight forward - butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, and vanilla, with the addition of buttermilk and orange zest.
Oh my! The aroma of the batter was amazing. The scent of the vanilla and orange was intoxicating - a little aromatherapy was going on here.
After buttering the ramekins, I took the extra precaution of lining them with a circle of parchment paper - I have this fear of baked goods sticking profusely. Not sure it was really necessary - I had buttered the dishes pretty well - they released quite easily, edges and all.
Each ramekin is filled with two tablespoons of batter, then a half plum is placed on top (cut side up) and lightly pressed into the batter - not too deep, for you want the plum to show after baking; each plum is sprinkled with about a tablespoon of light brown sugar before baking.
It was a little tricky getting the cakes out of the ramekins while warm, the edges of the cake will crack. I even let one cool completely, still it cracked, though not as bad. I just pressed them back to gether ever so gently. That is where some whipped cream comes in handy - to hide any imperfections that may occur - as Mr. Desaulniers himself does, as shown in this video.
These little cakes are a deliciously sweet treat - the cake part was soft and moist, with a crunchy exterior, a nice contrast to the soft warm plum in the center.
Surprisingly to me, my husband even liked them! He has never really been a dessert person. Maybe it helped that he had this at breakfast with his coffee.
These really are best served warm, as recommended in the recipe; though they can be stored at room temperature for a day, wrapped airtight. We had these two days later (I refrigerated them after the first day), and they reheated nicely in a 350° oven for about ten to fifteen minutes.
These little jewels are on the sweet side - a little unsweetened whipped cream would help curb the sweetness. You could also probably cut back on the amount of sprinkled brown sugar atop the plums. I did not have any whipped cream on hand, so we ate them plain - good thing I do like sweet treats.
The recipe can be found on page 255 of Baking with Julia, or by clicking here.
You will want to visit my fellow baker's sites as well, I'm sure there will be some wonderful variations to the recipe, for there usually are, due to ingredient availability or dietary restrictions.