It’s that time of year when the Niagara Region blesses us with a bounty of delicious summer fruit.
Peaches and cherries often get all the headlines, but I truly love the lush sweetness of a ripe plum. Golden, black, red….they’re all terrific.
You may recall that in a previous post, pastry goddess Cora James had the idea of pairing a plum cake with a screening of Amélie, the delightful 2001 French romantic comedy, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tatou. In the film (which you need to watch if you haven’t already), our heroine whips up a plum cake.
Recently, I was at our local farmer’s market and saw a lovely bunch of juicy red plums. Inspired by Cora’s vision, I picked them up and went home to bake a no-fail plum and almond cake that I make at least once every summer.
The Ultimate Summer Plum Cake
This cake is based on a recipe from LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine. The recipe uses apricots, but I’ve used it with plums and peaches as well. It could also work with cherries, if you have the patience to remove all of those pits! I think the plum version is my favourite.
This easy and absolutely delectable dessert is a classic upside down cake, with the fruit baked in caramel and topped with a fluffy batter. After baking, the cake is inverted. What makes this cake even more special is that a tube of marzipan goes into the batter! The almond paste adds a rich flavour and a tiny bit of chewiness that is hard to describe, but it’s so delicious.
I pretty much use the LCBO recipe straight up, but I recommend using salted butter instead of unsalted. I find the extra salt provides a nice balance with the sweetness of the plums, caramel and marzipan.
Also, I advise serving the cake with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. Again, it cuts a bit of the sweetness.
On the Side
Pair the cake with a glass of Niagara ice wine or a nice bit of port (which I usually sip with chocolate desserts, but it’s a nice match with the plums). Ice wine gets a bad rap for being too sweet, but the sweetness mellows when it’s paired with a fruity pastry and you’re left with a refreshing, pleasant and very drinkable after dinner beverage.
What to watch?
Amélie is a challenge to find through streaming services in Canada right now, but I highly advise buying the blu-ray. It’s such a sweet, smart little film with beautiful images and a winning lead performance.
If you’d like to nibble on your plum cake while watching a different summer film, I highly recommend Love & Mercy (2014), directed by Bill Pohlad and starring Paul Dano (who makes every film he’s in better), John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks. It’s the story of Brian Wilson, the troubled genius behind The Beach Boys.
I’m not one for biopics. I like Queen, but hated Bohemian Rhapsody. I’m “meh” towards The Beach Boys, but loved Love & Mercy. It’s a very human story that doesn’t glamourize anything. It’s so interesting, along with being compelling.
The trailer is below. Love & Mercy is streaming on Netflix, iTunes, YouTube and Google Play.