Have you ever heard of the famous New York Times Plum Torte recipe? It’s one of the most popular recipes ever published by the American newspaper back in the days before the Internet. It was so much in demand by the NYT readers, that it was published every year from 1983 until 1995 during the plum season.
I discovered this recipe through Pinterest a few weeks ago. The kind folks at Oddbox (a south London subscription service of weekly fruit and vegetable boxes) gifted me a box full of seasonal produce, which includes a punnet of plums. What I love about Oddbox is that they collect fruits and vegetables unsold by English farms simply because they are not perfectly shaped or the variety and size the mass market wants. This service helps reduce food waste and offers consumers like me the convenience of having fresh produce delivered regularly to their doors.
I think Oddbox is a great service, but the box was too big to consume in a few days between two people (myself and my husband). I used about 3/4 of the produce and gave the rest away, allocating it to strangers living near me in Clapham, using the OLIO app. If you live in London, I highly recommend using this app to share and collect excess food and reduce food waste.
Going back to the plum torte, the Oddbox contained a punnet of plums and I immediately decided to use them in a cake. And what better occasion than a Band of Bakers meet-up to bake? The baking theme was USA, so I searched for American plum cakes on Pinterest and this one came up.
Looking like a crossover between a cake and a crumble, this plum torte has juicy caramelised plums popping up in between clusters of light cake.
The original recipe is available on the New York Times website, which you can only read with a subscription. I followed the recipe on Coley Cooks blog, but I also recently discovered that an adaptation of it is available on Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen., one of my all time favourite food blogs (I love Deb’s brownie roll-out cookies!)
I added one layer of frangipane cream that I had left over and didn’t want to waste. So my version of the New York plum torte was creamy and nutty in the centre. It worked really well, but it’s not essential. If you love a sweet almond or hazelnut filling, you can easily make your own frangipane or use soft marzipan (or even just scatter almond flakes at the same time of arranging the plums in the cake).
- 113g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 130g plain flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 9 small plums, pitted and halved
- 1/2 orange juice
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- frangipane cream or flaked almonds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and flour the inside of a 8 or 9-inch (20-22cm) springform pan.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a medium bowl using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.
Spread the batter into the pan and smooth the top. If using, add the frangipane cream or almonds at this stage.
Arrange the halved plums with the skin sides up. Use your fingers to gently press the plums into the batter so the fruit is almost completely covered by cake. Squeeze the orange juice over the fruit, then sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon.
Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan, before moving onto a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting.
Serve it warm or at room temperature, if you want to add a dollop of cream or ice cream I am sure nobody will complain.