This recipe by Marian Burros from The New York Times is one of their most famous recipes. It was originally published in the fall of 1983 and annually thereafter for six years. In 1989, the NYT tried to print the Plum Torte recipe “for the last time” but readers refused to let the recipe vanish from the pages of the NYT. Plum Torte remains an annual feature of the NYT cooking section.
In September, when the 2016 Plum Torte recipe was printed, I bought some beautiful purple plums from Symms Fruit Ranch in Caldwell, Idaho at the grocery store. The plums sat around in the refrigerator for six weeks awaiting their destiny in Plum Torte. Finally I made the famous and fabulous torte. It’s easy to see why NYT readers refuse to let the recipe go!
The recipe is similar to Blueberry Pudding Cake, but the cake part is sturdier and more caramelized.
Comments from NYT readers show that the cake is endlessly adaptable to different fruits and different pans. It can be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Here is the basic recipe.
½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt (optional)
24 halves pitted purple plums (regular supermarket red plums are not as good)
sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon for topping
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)