Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Plum, Rosemary, and Brandy Cakes

Autumn denial again. Knowing plums would very soon disappear from the markets, I of course woke up on Sunday morning with a mad craving for plums... and plum cake. So I managed to scavenge a few good specimens from the couple of vendors at the market still left who were selling plums (most of the market has now moved onto grapes!), and set about to make a good, simple plum cake for Sunday/Monday morning breakfasts. ..."simple" with rosemary and brandy, of course! :) (because since you're eating cake on a Monday morning, might as well have it with plums soaked in brandy, amiright?!)

Lately I've been craving simple butter cakes like these, laden with fruit (exhibit A: last week's cake). I think it's just because everything else in life is so insane and potentially stress-inducing that I need my desserts at the very least to be comfortable, easy to understand, straightforwardly good. The rosemary in here (homegrown! My brown thumb has successfully kept rosemary alive for at least one summer so far!) adds just enough complexity and surprise to make it intriguing at the same time. It's the best kind of comfort food.

Here's wishing everyone a happy and productive week, filled with enough relaxing moments to breathe here and there to keep us all sane. :)

Read on for recipe....
(Toni remarked that this cake reminded her of the magic cake in Pixar's Brave! So I couldn't resist feeding my black bear some. :D)

Plum, Rosemary, and Brandy Cakes
makes three 4½-inch round cakes
inspired by Adrian Richardson's The Good Life

3 - 4 small plums
¼ cup brandy
2 Tbspn dark brown sugar, lightly packed
200 g (1½ cups + ½ Tbspn) all-purpose flour
2½ tspn baking powder
½ tspn salt
1½ Tbspn fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
127 g (9 Tbspn) butter, at room temperature
125 g (½ cup + 2 Tbspn) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbspn buttermilk
powdered sugar

1. Pit the plums and cut into roughly ½-inch thick slices. Toss in a bowl with the brandy and dark brown sugar. Let the plums sit in the liquid for at least one hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour three 4½-inch springform round cake pans. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and chopped rosemary. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Reduce speed and fold in the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until incorporated, but do not overmix.
7. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Use the back of the spatula to smooth the tops and spread the batter out to the sides of the pan.
8. Strain the plum slices, reserving the brandy juice. Arrange the marinated plum slices on top of the batter.
9. Bake the cakes for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out cleanly and the edges of the cakes are beginning to turn light brown. Remove the cakes from the oven.
10. Immediately spoon all of the reserved brandy on top of the cakes, letting it soak in.
11. Let the cakes cool for 10 to 15 minutes on a wire rack before unmolding from the pans.
12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.



  1. As if straight from the pages of a magazine, your food styling is impeccable. That cake looks a real treat

  2. Adore your wonderful photos. Very beautiful!

  3. As it so happens, I woke up with a plum craving too. I might have to hustle myself down to the greengrocer to see if they've got any left.

  4. yum, they look so good! We'll be heading into plum season in the next few months, so I'll have to remember this recipe :)

  5. Stunning! Your photography is my MOST favorite on the blogosphere. It is so captivating and wonderful. The cakes look delicious...getting pinned very soon. rileymadel.blogspot.com

  6. I am so jealous of that bear because he has this in front of him and I don't!!! These are gorgeous little cakes. Amazing photos too!

  7. This sounds delicious. I'm ready for blackberrying, but I might have to cram in one last summer cake before then.

  8. Hi Stephanie! I've been following your blog for 4 years and I think these are some of the best photos you've ever taken -- especially the plum close-up and the sugar sprinkling. Do you offer your images for print/sale?

  9. plums make a cake very fresh and moist - yours look so cute and delicious! ;)

  10. Plums and Brandy? I am kind of sad that plums are on their way out, but I will cheer them with a touch of brandy like this. I haven't made the apple cake yet, so I don't know what you are trying to do here...

  11. Absolutely stunning. Your photos always inspire me.

  12. Hi Laura! Thank you! <3. Send me an email if you're interested in any specific images: s[at]dessertsforbreakfast[dot]com

  13. Beautiful cakes and the bear is the sweetest thing ever!

  14. this looks like such a nice cake.

  15. Dana @ Simply RomanescoSeptember 19, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    Stephanie! This looks absolutely
    gorgeous! Amazing pictures and what a
    great way to put those last plums to good use. Just lovely :)

  16. Exquisite photos as always, and this combination of flavors sounds amazing. Love your use of herbs and spirits in sweets - a baker after my own heart!

  17. These photographs are stunning, not to mention the recipe sounds delicious. Beautiful post!

  18. In my quest to discover the sweets, the beauties of life, I'm always happy to return to your site, Stephanie. And I love how you incorporate fresh herbs and fruits into your baked goods (including your wedding cakes.) It doesn't feel like a denial of fall but rather an honoring of Mother Nature's gifts.
    As always, appreciate, too the bounty of gorgeous photos you so generously share.


    Kim aka The Ninja Baker


I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!