Stone Fruit Season: Plums & Cream Polenta Cake

plum & polenta

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

Ingredients

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

3 eggs

a tsp vanilla extract

4 plums

2 tbsps strawberry or current jam

Method

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

 

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Stone Fruit Season : Plum hand pies

Plum hand pies

Next in our stone fruit series are these cute hand pies made with ripe , sweet plums. This one was a hit with my daughter, probably because they were small and therefore easy for little hands to hold- its a bonus that they’re sweet and crumbly (toddlers seem to love making a mess with crumbly things!). The pastry is so simple to make and is taken off a recipe from Bon Appétit , the filling is a thick plum jam with a hint of cinnamon. Just remember to start with ripe plums.

Makes 8 hand pies

Ingredients

For the pastry

For the filling

2 cups ripe plums, stones removed and sliced

1 Cinnamon stick

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

20g butter

Equipment

Pastry cutter of any shape (we used one that is of 5 cm diameter)

Rolling pin

Pastry brush (for egg wash)

Method

First make the pastry dough. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Then add the cubed butter, rubbing it in with the tips of your fingers until you get a coarse , breadcrumb like texture.

Don’t work the dough too much, just enough to get that desired texture. Then add the ice water slowly and form the dough into a ball. Flatten it into a square shape, then wrap it in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to firm up for 2 hours. 

While waiting, make the filling. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the plums , sugar, salt, cinnamon stick and water. Stir to combine all the ingredients.

Cook the plums until they completely soften , melt and become a jam. This could take about 30 minutes over low heat. Keep stirring, especially towards the end so the jam doesn’t stick to the pan. 

Once the filling is ready, take it off the heat and let it cool. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

When the pastry is ready, take it out of the fridge and place it on a  floured surface. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Dust your hands and your rolling pin with flour too. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1.5 cm. Then using a cutter of your liking, cut out as many shapes as you can. Re-roll the leftover dough and do the same. 

Lightly brush the cut-outs with the egg wash, this will help to ensure the filling doesn’t soak through the pastry. Place half a tablespoon of filling in the middle of one cut-out , then place another cut out on the top- egg washed side down. Repeat with the rest. You now have your pies. 

Using a fork, press down the edges of each hand pie to seal them. Using a small sharp knife, make 2 small vertical cuts on the top of each pie. Then lightly egg wash the tops of each hand pie as well. 

Bake in the oven for about 15 -20 minutes until the pies are golden. 

x Anu & Suba