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Torta Prugna-Plum Cake
Most Italian trattorias take advantage of the abundance of seasonal fruits by offering them in desserts. In place of the plump summer plums that crown this delectable cake, you can use apricots, nectarines or blueberries. Whatever your selection, make sure the fruit is ripe but firm, as it will soften during baking.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (for mixing in with the egg whites)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ripe medium to large plums, peeled, pitted and sliced into sixths
Confectioners'sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Butter and flour a 9-inch (23cm) cake pan or a 9-inch (23cm) tart pan with a removable bottom.
In a bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on medium speed, beat together the butter and the 1/3 cup granulated sugar until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat until very smooth.
In a small bowl , stir together the flour and baking powder. In another small bowl, stir together the cream, water and almond and vanilla extracts. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the cream mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not overmix.
In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, whip the egg whites until they form very soft peaks. Sprinkle in the 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and continue to beat until semisoft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula or whisk , fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, breaking apart any lumps in the beaten egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the surface with a small spatula or the back of a spoon.
Arrange the plums in a circle on the top of the batter. Place in the center of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (180 C). Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15-20 minutes.
If using a cake pan, run a knife blade around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides, invert onto the rack and then turn the cake right side up. If using a tart pan, push the removable bottom up releasing cake from sides of pan. Place cake on serving plate.
Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift confectioners' sugar evenly over the top. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 8 servings.
Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2002
|Date: August 13, 2002|