In a way it feels silly to post this. But when I've made the same thing maybe 5 times over the past 2 months, to not talk about it feels like not telling a close friend my innermost thoughts. The classic NY Times recipe from 1983, the Purple Plum Torte, something old, is still being made and that's for a reason, clearly. A magical thing happens in the oven...the baking powder and egg puff up the thick-battered torte into cakey lightness, the plums sink through to develop into jammy pockets and the cinnamon speckles bake into the top crust to give it the slightest crackle. One of the farm market vendors I frequent has still had a heap of these little Italian plums on a weekly basis and I can never not pick them up. It being 2015, not 1983, I decided to give it a new twist: I make a half-recipe, swap in a smidge of whole wheat flour, and bake it in shallow tart pans instead of a tall springform one.
This not only cuts the baking time a bit, but makes it a little more svelte, designed to feed less (though it freezes well and is best after it sits overnight). To that point, Amanda Hesser stated on Instagram last week that if the only time you have to bake is 10pm on a weeknight, then you should make this torte. Marian Burros knows Italian prune plums, and she knows they need to be baked to be fully enjoyed. If you've never made her plum crumble, that is the other essential thing to do with seasonal Italian prune plums. I talked about it last year, and just made it again the other day with more of these little plums I had around. But today, I took out a slice of the torte again.
It's an around-the clock kind of item. Good for dessert, afternoon coffee treat, and breakfast. We ate some for breakfast before we left for our wedding rehearsal because it ages well overnight (see above) and I clearly considered the shape of slices I cut, to be smiley faces for good luck. It is also the most elegant excuse to eat cake for breakfast I know.
(Svelte) Purple Plum Torte adapted from Marian Burros via NYT
Note-an 8-inch x 1-inch tart pan or a 4 x 14 tart pan with removable bottoms work well here
6 Tbs (70 grams) sugar
4 Tbsp (55 grams)/ 1/2 a stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup (63 grams) all purpose flour (I sneak about 1 Tbsp/8 grams whole wheat in)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
8 Italian prune plums, small-ish, halved and pitted
1 tsp lemon juice
~ 1/2 tsp sanding sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
-Heat the oven to 350
-Whisk well together the flour, baking powder, salt
-In a stand mixer or beaters, cream butter and sugar til fluffy and light, scrape down as needed and add the egg, scrape down.
-Add the flour mix carefully in two additions, mixing on low until just combined, scrape down sides and bottom as needed.
-Scrape batter into prepared tin and smooth top.
-Place plums cut side down onto batter.
-Sprinkle with lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar
-Place in oven for about 40 minutes. Check @ 35. A wood skewer will come out clean, top bounce back to touch.
-Cool on rack, un-mold bottom to serve once fully cooled. Good left overnight, wrapped after cooling.