Friday, 9 September 2011

The taste of going back to school...

Thankfully, for me September is no longer the month for dreading going back to a world of uniforms, lessons, and homework.  Saying that, inspired by this season’s bountiful offering of plums galore, I was transported back to the first days of the new school year when I made this old family favourite: plum cake. 

It used to be the trade off for re-imposing the school routine... you go back to class, yes BUT, you get a slab of plum cake in your lunchbox!  It somehow manages to be everything at once; sweet, tart, moist, light and perfect for mid-morning or mid-afternoon sugar dips (or both if like me you’re a glutton!). 
I’m not even sure who the recipe originally came from.  I know it’s from my dad’s side, so definitely one of the German contingent. 

Saying that, it’s one of mum's favourite things – in fact it could quite possibly be the reason she married into such a crazy family.  Well maybe it’s not THAT perfect a recipe but a good rumour to start anyway! 

This year instead of that back to school feeling, September has become a month of looking forward to my late summer holiday to Portugal.  Only a week to go... WHOO HOO!!

Preheat the oven to 180˚C.  Cream together the butter and white sugars.  Beat in the eggs with a little of the flour.  Stir in the vanilla. 

Gradually stir in the remaining flour, adding the raising agent with the last spoonful.  Mix in the vanilla essence.  Add the milk a little at a time until the mixture has reached a soft cake consistency.

Spread the mixture over the lined tin/s.  This recipe is for two 7” and one 6½” sandwich tins.  I used a large square roasting tin because unlike my grandmother I don’t have large numbers of mismatched sandwich tins lying around. 

Push the plum halves gently into the cake mixture (skin side up).  Fleck the top of the fruit with butter to stop them drying out and sprinkle the whole cake with brown sugar.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until firm and golden.

This can also be made with apples instead of plums by peeling, coring and thinly slicing 900g cooking apples.  Arrange over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to taste.

Plum Cake: (makes 3 small cakes or one large tray bake)
125g butter, plus extra for dotting on the top
150g caster sugar
50g granulated sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
300g self-raising flour
1tsp vanilla essence
1tsp baking powder
1 punnet of plums, cut in half with stone removed – I used 10 plums but you can use as many or few as you want
2tbsp brown sugar

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