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Plum Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar & Cardamom Streusel

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Serves 8 or 9

Yields one 8-inch-square cake.

  • To learn more, read:
    Plum Perfect Desserts
  • by Kimberly Y. Masibay from Fine Cooking
    Issue 94

If you've been eyeing those plums abundant in the markets right now, here's the perfect excuse to drop a few in your bag. This dish is coffee cake with a twist; the brown sugar and cardamom streusel make it truly special. You can serve this cake drizzled with a little heavy cream or crème fraîche, but it's just as delicious by itself. The cake will keep for a day, covered, at room temperature; if you keep it longer, the moisture from the plums will start to soften the streusel, so keep that in mind.

For the streusel:
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch (about 1/16 tsp.) ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted; more as needed
For the cake:
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces; more softened for the pan
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 3 firm-ripe medium plums, each pitted and quartered
Make the streusel:

Put the flour, sugar, kosher salt, and cardamom in a small mixing bowl and stir the ingredients with a fork until thoroughly combined. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and stir with the fork until the mixture resembles a clumpy dough. Using your fingers, break the mixture into pistachio-size clumps and large crumbs. (If the streusel is sandy and won’t clump, add a little more melted butter, 1 tsp. at a time.) Refrigerate the streusel while you prepare the cake batter.

Make the cake:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter and flour an 8x8x2-inch straight-sided cake pan.

Beat the eggs lightly in a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla until well blended. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, table salt, and cardamom until well blended. Add the butter pieces to the bowl and cut them into the flour with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a very coarse meal strewn with pieces of butter the size of small peas and oat flakes.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. With a wooden spoon, fold and stir the ingredients together until it’s a thick batter speckled with visible lumps of butter, 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Break up the streusel mixture with your fingers and sprinkle half of it evenly over the batter. Arrange the plum quarters skin side down on the batter, with each piece at a 45-degree angle to the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the remaining streusel evenly over the cake.

Bake the cake for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan. Continue baking until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Cool the cake in its pan on a rack for at least an hour before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 350; Fat (g): 16; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 10; Protein (g): 5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4.5; Carbohydrates (g): 48; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 240; Cholesterol (mg): 85; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I did this cake with peaches rather than plums and swapped out some cinnamon for the cardamom. It worked wonderfully. When I felt the texture of the streusel, I had my doubts. But it is wonderful when it bakes up. I will use this recipe again.

I did this cake with peaches rather than plums and swapped out some cinnamon for the cardamom. It worked wonderfully. When I felt the texture of the streusel, I had my doubts. But it is wonderful when it bakes up. I will use this recipe again.

Easy and delicious. Would make again. Was a great dessert to follow up an Asian-inspired fish dish. Didn't have to worry about letting it sit overnight. It was gone before the evening was over.

This recipe was easy and very flavourful. I used italian plums and they were delicious. Definitely will make this again.

Made this twice using Italian plums. Easy to prepare and best eaten on the same day. Reminds me of my mother's Polish plum cake with a spice twist.

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