Plum Crumb Cake

Cool air.  That’s what’s filling the house today.  I felt it about a week ago, that little hint of freshness late at night and first thing in the morning.  Today all the windows and doors are open and cool air is flowing in.  I couldn’t resist turning on the oven to bake this lovely coffee cake.  A yeast-leavened dough, covered with sweet plums and a crunchy cinnamon-scented crumble, it’s just right with a big cup of coffee on a cool, late summer morning.

Plum Crumb Cake
(makes one 9-inch cake, about 8 servings)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water (105-115F)
1/2 cup warm buttermilk (105-115F)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crumb Topping
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
pinch cardamom
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
2 cups pitted and sliced fresh red plums**

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water in a small bowl.  Stir to combine and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Combine the buttermilk, sugar, oil, egg, salt, and zest in a large bowl.  Add the yeast mixture and 1 cup of flour.  Beat well, until smooth.  Add remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour, no more.  The batter will be sticky and stiff.  Generously grease a 9-inch springform pan, or a 9-inch quiche pan that is at least 2 inches deep and has a removable bottom.  With a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Spread the batter gently, with floured fingers, to fill the pan evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.  The batter will look puffy.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  While the batter is resting, combine the sour cream, sugar, flour, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Beat until smooth with a whisk.  Set aside.  Make the crumb topping by combining the flour, sugar, and spices in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs.  Pour the sour cream mixture evenly over the batter.  Gently distribute the plums over the sour cream layer.  Sprinkle with the crumb mixture to completely cover the fruit.  Bake in the 400F oven for about 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a rack to continue cooling.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator. 
**You could substitute nectarines, cherries, blueberries or other firmly ripe seasonal fruit.
(from “Bread” by Beth Hensperger)

Breakfast on the deck



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