On September 19, my little blog turned three! Another year filled with recipes and stories that wouldn’t be the same without all of you, my dear readers. YOU, whom I all consider my friends by now, make this experience exciting, inspiring and so, so much fun. And I can’t thank you enough for being here and for all your kindness and support!
It seems to be a recurring theme to celebrate my blog birthday with some sort of delicious plum concoction. This year is no exception. But there’s no better way to let go of summer and celebrate the third anniversary than with a classic recipe from my grandmother. This is another stellar summer dessert and one of my grandma’s favorite sweets to whip up during the sizzling summer heat.
What I love about this cake, besides its luscious flavors and stunning colors, is its versatility and easy transition to richer tastes and ingredients. Although I like to honor the last plums of the hot season by making this beautiful dessert, you can also try this cake with peaches, apricots or sour cherries, and I encourage you to swap the stone fruits for ricotta cheese when cooler weather rolls around. You’ll be in for a special treat!
This Meringue Plum Cake is humble in appearance but huge in flavor. The tartness and juiciness of the plums pair beautifully with the intense sweetness and relaxed stickiness of the meringue. In the end, the two complement each other to create a well-balanced sweet treat.
You first bite into the crackly, foamy meringue top and then sink your teeth into the meaty and zesty plums only to finish with the soft, subtle, dough. And while my grandma usually fancies a light, fluffy dough in her summery cakes, this time around, the base is more subdued allowing the succulent plums and frothy meringue to shine through. I made a full tray of this gorgeous cake for my husband to indulge while I was away for a couple of days; upon my return, all I found was an empty tray filled with crumbs and traces of (what was) a wonderful cake. I guess he loved it!
Meringue Plum Cake
By Simply Romanesco inspired by my Grandma Vicki
Makes: 18 squares
· 200 grams (14 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
· 200 grams (scant 1 cup) sugar, plus more for dusting
· 4 large eggs, at room temperature
· 1 Tablespoon sour cream
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 350 grams (2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1 kilogram (2 pounds) plums, about 5 large ones, pitted and quartered or sliced as desired
· 200 grams (1 ½ cups) confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 14 by 10-inch baking pan with butter and flour.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
Separate the egg yolks and egg whites and keep close at hand. In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium-low speed beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated. In batches, add the flour and baking powder mixture and beat until incorporated; the batter will be neither soft nor hard. Using clean hands, gather the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared pan. Spread the dough into an even layer with your hands or a spatula.
Arrange the plums on top and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar over each slice of plum. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the cake is golden and about 85-90% ready.
In the meantime, in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. In batches, add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until the mixture is glossy and holds firm peaks, about 7-10 minutes.
Take the cake out of the oven. Dollop the meringue topping over the cake and spread it carefully all over with a spatula.
Place the cake back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the meringue browns gently. Check constantly as the browning can happen faster.
Take the cake out of the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack. Slice the cake into squares and carefully take the squares out of the pan and arrange them on a serving platter.
Variations: If you prefer to try this cake with ricotta cheese instead of stone fruits, mix 500 grams (1 pound) whole milk ricotta cheese with 2 large eggs, zest from half a lemon, and 2-3 Tablespoons sugar to taste. Place it over the dough base and follow the rest of the instructions.