Monday, June 25, 2012

Quick Dish: Quick Almond and Plum Cake

I'm a huge fan of Jacques Pépin.  Partly because he sounds like my lovely Uncle William from south Louisiana who has a wonderful French accent.  Jacques is from Lyon in France and Uncle William is from the bayous of Louisiana but they sound the same. 

The other part of why I am a fan of Jacques is that he is an amazing chef.  He once shared a TV show with Julia Childs and, even though he is a classically trained chef, he continues to bring the laid back passion for food in the kitchen that Julia was well known for.  He can do the fancy techniques but he chooses to incorporate tips that his mom taught him and lovingly invites friends and family to cook with him on his PBS show. 

He made a Quick Almond and Plum Cake on his show and it was seriously quick.  I made it yesterday and it is amazingly simply but wonderfully delicious.  Plus, I had local, organic plums that needed to be eaten and thereby completing the needed ingredients located in my kitchen.  Below is the recipe copied from his website and can also be found in his cookbook "Essential Pepin".

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unblanched whole almonds
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk

4–6 ripe plums, preferably Black Friar or Santa Rosa (1 1/4 pounds)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plum jam
1 tablespoon plum brandy or Calvados

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center. Butter a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter.

FOR THE CAKE: Process the flour, almonds, sugar, and baking powder in a food processor until the mixture is a coarse powder. Add the vanilla, the remaining butter, the oil, and eggs and process for a few seconds, just until incorporated. Add the milk and process for a few seconds, until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

FOR THE TOPPING: Using the point of a sharp knife, remove the pit from the stem end of each plum. (If the plums are not fully ripened and feel hard, prick them all over with the point of a sharp knife to soften them.) Rinse the whole plums well under cold water. While they are still wet, roll them in the sugar. Arrange the plums on top of the cake, spacing them evenly, and push them down into the batter until the bottom half of each is immersed.
Uncooked cake.
Place the cake on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until puffy and nicely browned on top. Cool on a rack to lukewarm.
Cooked cake
Mix the plum jam and brandy together in a small bowl and brush the top of the lukewarm cake with the mixture. Remove the sides of the pan and cut the cake into 6 to 8 wedges, so that each serving contains at least half a plum. Serve warm or just at room temperature.

I realized yesterday that my upcoming week is packed with meetings during breakfast, lunch and dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY.  As a kid, I would have dreamt for weeks like this where I could eat out at every meal.  As an adult, it kind of grosses me out.  Therefore, I texted today's lunch partner yesterday and asked if I could treat her to a homecooked meal in my company's breakroom instead of going out to a restaurant.  She gladly accepted and her reward will be homemade potato & jalapeno soup with a salad made of vegetables from my garden and a slice of Quick Almond and Plum Cake for dessert (or afternoon snack).

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