July into August is prime time for stone fruits in the mid-Atlantic region. I can always tell when we’re at peak season when my Hungry Harvest boxes start to come brimming with plums, nectarines and pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot). I’m talking dozens each week. And while my oldest–and sometimes my little guy–eats them fresh, I often find myself with 6 or 7 on the verge of over-ripeness that I need to use up quickly.
Over the years, I’ve tried to use ripe stone fruit in a number of different preparations: in crisps, and crumbles, cakey cobblers, eggy clafoutis, and even in a fruity sheet pan pancake. The sheet pan pancake used my pancake muffin batter, poured into a greased half sheet pan and scattered over with chopped pluot. Then I baked it (at 425 degree for about 25 minutes – until it was cooked in the center), cut it in large rectangles and served it with syrup. I actually thought it came out pretty well. But alas, this recipe, just like the others mentioned above were might by a lukewarm, sometimes frosty, reception from the other folks in my household.
Why I love it: Lots of desserts that use juicy fruits like stone fruits involve a looser, lighter, pourable batter, often made with milk or buttermilk that cooks up around the fruit. But the Late Summer Plum Cake has a sturdy cake batter that starts with creamed butter and sugar (always a good sign) and very little liquid. The batter is spread into the pan and the fruit is decoratively arranged on top. It also uses up a lot of fruit, probably six or eight fruits, depending on the size. The result: an attractive, delicious, lightly spiced one-layer cake that would taste awesome on its own, made better with the addition of caramelized, ripe fruit on top.
I’ve used pluots, nectarines and a combination of stone fruits (pluots, plums and cherries). You’ll see a few photos of my adventures here. Last week, I made one with white nectarines – I’d originally intended to make a plum nectarine combo, but my plums were too ripe. (So we snacked on them while we baked the cake.) That’s the beauty of this recipe. It’s versatile and works with any stone fruit you have on hand. Peaches would also be delicious.
The funny thing is that I don’t have any photos of a slice of this cake (even the one I made last week). It’s like it comes out of the oven long enough to be presented on a cake plate and sliced … then POOF! It’s gone. But it’s a beautiful cake that’s a delightful treat with coffee in the morning, a cup of tea in the afternoon or a tall glass of cold milk after dinner.
I highly recommend you take advantage of a plentiful stone fruit harvest and give this recipe a try. Thanks to Jennifer at Once Upon a Chef for a really special recipe!