I have been feeling a little blue. I try to get past it, and most days succeed, but I have to tell you, I’ve been blue!
I used to love the coming of autumn. All of the promise of that “back to school” feeling and the excitement of sweaters! But in the last few years it has, instead, made me feel this desperate and very raw sense of melancholy. I am working to put my finger on why that is, so I can try to sort it out and get it out, but right now I am just in the middle of feeling it.
One thing I do when I am feeling blue is bake. I love the process of it. I love looking around at what I have in the kitchen and seeing what I can make of it. One book I always grab in these moments is Nigel Slater’s, The Kitchen Diaries. (This would be my one desert island cookbook … assuming my desert island had a working kitchen!) This wonderful cookbook is set up in monthly chunks so it is perfect for those times when I need to feel a bit more positive about any given time, like say, this September.
I pulled the book down this week and dove into the section on September. I knew I would be inspired and I knew I would realize, even in some small way, that there was much to love about this time of year once again.
Plums!! Yes, of course. Mr. Slater has a few lovely recipes using plums in his September section and I knew our farmer’s market just produced the Maine plums onto the scene. I knew in that moment that plums were just the thing.
This is a very easy cake to make and a very cheerful one. Plums are not only tasty but beautiful and that inspires me just in and of itself!
Little Plum Cake
adapted from Nigel Slater’s, “The Kitchen Diaries”
140 grams unsalted butter, softened
85 grams natural sugar
85 grams almond meal (or well-grounded almonds)
90 grams all purpose flour
45 grams spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
16 small plums
1 teaspoon vanilla
Set oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper; butter the parchment paper. Using a standing or hand-mixer, beat butter and sugar for 2–3 minutes until very light and fluffy. (I scrape the bowl down one time in the middle of the beating.) While that is happening, measure all of your dry ingredients (almond meal, flours, baking powder, salt) into a medium bowl and whisk together well. Also, slice plums in half and take out the stones. When the butter mixture is ready, add vanilla. Once that is mixed in well, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove butter mixture from standing mixer and gently fold in the dry ingredients by hand. Batter will be very thick and smell amazing! Scape batter into your prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Press plums gently into the top of the batter. Bake for one hour and then test with a knife. The knife should come out completely clean of crumbs. When the cake is done, remove from the oven and let stand on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes or until you can handle the cake pan with your hands. Use a knife to cut around the sides of the cake and then out onto a plate. Do not cut your cake until it is completely cooled no matter how tempting. When ready to cut, use a very sharp knife. Enjoy warmed or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream or on its own.
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I did feel a bit more cheerful about September after making this sweet little cake. I am enjoying the pears and the plums that are at our market and will continue to bake with them letting go of the summer berries that I already miss so much. I am going to leave The Kitchen Diaries out on my kitchen counter so I can cook from it this month, and next. I know the blues will leave soon. I just know it!