This simple, homey cake celebrates the late summer, when many farmers’ markets are overflowing with small, dark Italian plums, also known as Empress plums and prune plums. Halved and nestled in the batter, the plums turn ruby red and jammy as they bake.
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) sunflower or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 cup (5 oz./155 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) almond meal or almond flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) half-and-half or whole milk
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) plus 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. almond extract
- 9 Italian plums, halved and pitted
- 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) sliced almonds
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly oil an 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan. Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, egg, half-and-half, lemon juice and zest, the 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar, and the almond extract. Whisk to blend thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the plum halves, cut side up, on top of the batter. In a bowl, combine the almonds, the 2 Tbs. sugar and the butter and mix well. Dot the almond topping over the cake.
4. Bake until the topping is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the ring from the pan and place the cake on a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes one 8-inch (20-cm) cake; serves 8.
Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.