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It’s always good to remember that even the most tried and true recipes don’t always work. I got cocky yesterday, and zoomed my way through a yummy plum torte recipe that I’ve made forever. It’s an adaptation of that one that was published once per year in The New York Times througout most of the 1980s. My adaptations are simple: I’ve never been able to fit 12 plums-worth of halves on the surface, so I use about 10 plums and eat the rest. I do not like cinnamon on this — it gets too browny — and I fervently believe you should use a 9-inch springform pan, to keep a healthy ratio of batter to fruit.

So yesterday I ignored my own advice.

I used cinnamon, which ultimately made the top of the cake look like someone had splattered brown ink on it…and I baked the cake in a 10-inch pan, stretching the batter out to its thinnest, without adjusting the cooking time. The result was a freckled, lightly burnt offering. The only thing I did right was eating two plums.

The good thing is, I have a whole second set of plums.

PLUM TORTE (adapted from The New York Times)

Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 Italian prune plums, halved (or 12 if you’re going to eat four halves)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, beat well. Add flour and baking powder, mix in well.

Spoon batter into a 9-inch springform pan. Place the plum halves, skin side up, on top of the batter. Sprinkle with lemon juice, and sugar if you like.

Bake for 1 hour, checking at 50 minutes; torte is done when the batter has risen up between the plum halves and is light brown on top. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if you’ve got company to impress.

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