I spent yesterday preparing for a friend who’s here visiting us for 10 days and another friend who’s visiting us this weekend and the next. When I was little, we lived in a small two-bedroom house (which became a three-bedroom when my parents split one bedroom into two tiny ones, for me and my sister). When people would come visit and stay overnight, they usually took my and my sister’s beds. We were relegated to the living room where we slept on cots (or “camp beds” as we called them). They were uncomfortable and squeaked when you moved, but I didn’t care. I loved having visitors in our house.
They brought new life to our family, with their funny stories and different ways. And usually they brought gifts too, for me and my sister. My mom always stressed about having guests stay with us and now as an adult I can understand why. Our house was really small, and where we lived, there was no public transportation. We had one car only and my mother didn’t learn to drive until I was a teenager. But she always made sure our visitors (aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins) felt welcome and comfortable. She cooked and baked and often made the “special” desserts that she made only on important occasions.
I’m not as stressed as my mom was when friends or family visit Steve and me. We are lucky to have extra space and people who visit us can usually take care of themselves in New York city. But just like my mother, I make sure nobody leaves our home hungry. I bake for a couple of days to make sure we have many breakfast options. I make at least two different ice creams for a quick dessert and I plan out at least one big, home cooked dinner at our place.
So in anticipation of our friends coming this weekend I made this plum torte. It comes together in 10 minutes and it’s the perfect summer dessert. The plums get covered with the rising batter and they bake slowly, releasing their juices into the buttery cake. I think our friends will be happy at dinner tonight.Plum Torte – Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (note: if you don’t like cinnamon, substitute with 1/2 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest)
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder (the aluminum-free kind, if you can find it)
Large pinch of salt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (115 grams or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
6-7 black plums or 12 small Italian purple plums, halved and pitted (or use pluots, nectarines, or peaches)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Heat over to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest). Set aside. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Batter will be thick, like frosting.
Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan (you can put parchment paper in bottom for easy removal) and smooth the top. Place the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. No need to press them into the batter. It will rise and mostly cover them. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then with the cinnamon sugar (or lemon zest sugar).
Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on rack.