Friendship is a wonderful thing, especially if one of your friends is the finest food photographer in the world. Ok, so I’m a little biased, but you have to check Ralph Smith Photography sometime. He rocks the industry and has photographed several beautiful cookbooks including this award-winning beauty for the Junior League of Houston. Seriously, the cookbook has won so many awards for design and content, I’ve lost count…it’s brilliant!
Occasionally we are gifted with delicious and unusual food products that come through the studio to be shot (by the camera, people!) for cookbooks, vendors or events. I will never forget when Ralph showed up at our doorstep with a cooler full of exotic mushrooms -- amazing varieties and some I had never seen before: ‘hen of the woods’, chanterelles, oyster, enoki and more. See -- I told you it’s a wonderful thing to have a food photographer as a friend!
But the best prize of all that was brought to my kitchen from Ralph’s studio was an enormous, solid, 11 pound (5kg!!!) slab of dark Callebaut baker’s chocolate. Holy Moly! I could have died and gone to chocolate heaven right then and there! I did share some of it…
Last week, I attended a culinary affaire at Ralph’s studio and came home with a bag full of juicy and perfectly ripened pluots. Pluots are new enough on the stone-fruit scene that my spellchecker doesn’t even recognize the word yet! Same with the plumcot, a similar variety.
Intensely sweet, pluots are a cross between a plum and an apricot – but much more plummy than apricoty. Rich in vitamins C and A and fiber, they range in color from light green to shades of yellow and through the color wheel to deep purple. They are best eaten fresh (as with most fruits), but also lend themselves well to the sweet and moist Pluot Cake here.
Pluot Cake adapted from The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, by Marian Burros and Lois Levine.
Staying true to the title of the book, this recipe is VERY EASY to make.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon sugar for the top (optional)2 eggs1 cup all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powderpinch of salt4 pluots or plums, pitted and quarteredwalnut halves, optional1 teaspoon cinnamonArrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 8” or 9” springform pan by greasing it with butter and dusting with flour. As you can see from the top picture, I used a 5-inch and a 7-inch pan for one recipe.
Cream the butter and 3/4 cup of sugar in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer or use a stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, until mixture is light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder and salt and blend on slow speed until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan/s. Place the pluots or plums, skin side down, around the edge of the pan, with the plums pointing inward. Mix the cinnamon with 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional) and sprinkle over the top. Place a few walnut halves between the pluots, if desired.Bake for 30-40 minutes (or less if you are using smaller pans) until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.Using a small sieve, dust the top of the cake with 1 teaspoon of confectioner’s sugar, if desired. Serve plain, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8.Prijatno!