Austrian Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)
makes 8 servings
Both red and black plums work beautifully in this cake. Choose ripe, medium plums that still have a little firmness; soft, ultra-juicy fruit will make the center of the cake wet and soggy. Italian prune plums are great, too; use the same weight, but since they are small, cut them into halves instead of quarters. Ripe but firm pluots, a plum-apricot hybrid, are another excellent alternative.
The flavor and texture of this cake are best the day of baking, but leftovers can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature.
Take care not to underbake the cake; the plums let off a lot of juice that slows down the baking, especially at the center. When testing for doneness, make sure there are no moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick.
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
½ cup (107 grams) white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, at room temperature
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1¼ pounds ripe but firm medium plums, halved, cut into ¾-inch wedges, and pitted
Powdered sugar, to serve
Heat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust evenly with flour; tap out the excess.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With the mixer running, add the butter 1 piece at a time and continue mixing just until the mixture resembles moist sand, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Increase to medium-high speed and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Arrange the plum wedges on top of the batter in 2 concentric circles, placing the pieces on their cut sides. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted at the center comes out clean, 1 to 1¼ hours. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove the pan sides. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar.
Rosé-Soaked Plums With Yogurt and Black Pepper Streusel
Makes 6 servings
Summer plums — macerated in an aromatic wine syrup — shine in this simple dessert. Use a dry wine you would drink; the flavor is prominent and the alcohol is not completely cooked off. While we love a rosé, sauvignon blanc works equally well. The plums in syrup will keep for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator, but bring them to room temperature before serving. The streusel will hold for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
Avoid underripe or overripe fruit. The plums should be firm but fragrant. If you can’t find plums, 1½ pounds of sweet red cherries, pitted and halved, are a good substitute.
For the plums
1½ cups dry rosé or sauvignon blanc
1/3 cup (71 grams) white sugar
3 1-inch strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1½ pounds firm, ripe red or black plums (4 or 5), pitted and thinly sliced
For the streusel
2/3 cup (87 grams) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (55 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces and chilled
¾ cup sliced almonds
Greek-style yogurt or ice cream, to serve
To prepare the plums, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine, sugar, zest, and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes.
Place the sliced plums in a large bowl. Return the syrup to a simmer, then strain over the plums. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate if storing longer.
Meanwhile, to make the streusel, heat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pepper, and salt. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles wet sand and holds together when squeezed.
Add the almonds and toss to incorporate, then pinch the mixture with your fingertips to form rough, pistachio-sized clumps; smaller and larger bits are fine. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, stirring two or three times. Let cool completely.
To serve, spoon yogurt or ice cream into serving bowls. Using a slotted spoon, top with plums. Drizzle a few tablespoons of syrup over each portion and sprinkle with streusel.
Chocolate, Prune, and Rum Cake
Makes 12 servings
For this cake, inspired by London baker Claire Ptak’s recipe, we tried a variety of chocolates and prefer bar chocolates with 60 to 70 percent cacao (especially the Ghirardelli and Guittard brands). Chocolate chips contain stabilizers that can change the cake’s texture; it’s best to avoid them.
At first we questioned the need to whip the egg yolks and whites separately, but we discovered it makes a big difference. Whipping the yolks helps maintain the emulsion of chocolate and butter. And by now we understand the value of under-whipping the egg whites and just barely mixing them into the batter.
Don’t overbake this cake, and don’t be alarmed that the center still jiggles a bit; the cake will continue to set after it comes out of the oven.
9 tablespoons salted butter (1 tablespoon softened)
8 ounces pitted prunes (about 1½ cups), finely chopped
1/3 cup dark rum
1 tablespoon molasses
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup plus ¼ cup ( 121 grams) white sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Heat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan evenly with the 1 tablespoon of softened butter.
In a 2-cup microwave-safe liquid measuring cup, combine the prunes, rum, and molasses. Microwave until the rum is bubbling, 45 to 60 seconds. Let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter. Remove from the heat and immediately add the chocolate, then whisk until melted and completely smooth. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and ‚ cup of sugar until pale and glossy, about 30 seconds. Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture and continue whisking until smooth. Stir in the prune mixture.
Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until light and foamy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, slowly sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and continue to whip until the whites are thick and glossy and hold soft peaks, about 1 minute.
Whisk 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining whites with a rubber spatula until the batter is marbled but not fully blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. If needed, smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until the edges of the cake are firm and cracked, 35 to 40 minutes. The center will be just set, but will jiggle. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving (the cake will settle and sink as it cools).
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to [email protected]