This cake was inspired by two things – 1) needing to use a bag of polenta we bought in Switzerland last month for a family dinner but never used and 2) a recent discovery that the maroon and cream livery of the Great Northern Railway’s dining carriage in the 1940s (random fact of the day) came to be affectionately known as ‘Plum and Spilt Milk’, which sounded like a divine flavour combination! So obviously, we had to make a cake featuring those ingredients. It turned out a real treat with a cuppa tea so we thought we’d share it with all of you.
Serves 8 (big slices) or 10 (medium slices)
Prep Time: 20 mins Baking time: Approx 50-60 minutes
3/4 cup muscovado sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup polenta (we used fine polenta)
1 cup sifted self-raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder sifted in)
1/2 cup double cream
a tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps strawberry or current jam
Turn the oven on to 160 degrees c. Ours is an electric fan oven. Grease a round tin and line with baking parchment.
Cut the plums down the middle and twist each half in opposite directions. Slice the half with the stone in half again and twist, same as above – this will help in removing the stone. Cut each quarter into half again so that from each plum, you get 8 slices in total. Set aside.
Next, put both types of sugar together with the butter and beat until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat till well mixed in. After adding all three eggs, add the double cream and vanilla. Mix well.
Now add half the flour and half the polenta, fold in. Now, add the other half of both and fold in until well mixed. Careful not to beat the flour and polenta in and don’t mix vigorously either. Just patiently fold it in, we promise that will be worth the effort!
Pour the batter into your tin and smooth the surface. Now, starting from the edge of the tin, place the plum slices one next to the other, vertically, all around the tin (sneak a quick look at the picture above to see what we mean about the placing – that said, if you place it horizontally, it’ll be fine too!). Keep going till you fill up the whole top of the cake. You may want to choose the plum slices according to how they fit but really, don’t hesitate to squeeze them together or force them into shape! What you want to avoid is pressing the plums in because the cake will rise and you don’t want the plums sinking in when that happens.
Put the tin in the oven, middle shelf, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Put the cake on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and while that’s happening, zap the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds or put it in a bowl and the bowl in a bath of hot water – basically loosen the jam so you can brush it all over the cake. Brush the cake with the warm jam and leave it to cool completely.
x Anu & Suba