Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Italian Plum Cake

This cake is perfection.  Gorgeous perfection.  And I am so glad to have just found the recipe. 

Do you remember the scene from Amélie towards the end where Amélie is imagining Nino coming over to her apartment in search of her?  She imagines herself standing in the kitchen making her 'famous plum cake', but then starts to cry as she realizes it is all just in her imagination and that he is not really on his way over.  But then he actually does appear and they are in love and all that?  It's quite a nice scene, really.  Anyway, I have always wondered about Amélie's imaginary plum cake, because I'd never had plum cake before. It sounds so very French, and just downright lovely, that I have always wanted to try it.  So over the years I looked here and there for a recipe, but everyone seems to call for canned plums and that never sounded quite right.  It seems that, by general consensus, the plum cake approach has been something like this: it is the middle of dead winter and I need to make a cake, but all I've got on hand is that can of plums I bought three years ago.  Or something like that anyway.


I was thumbing through the cookbook A Platter of Figs last week and found a recipe for a lovely little plum cake.  And I could be wrong, but I am fairly certain that it is exactly the recipe I had been hoping for all these years.  Yes, it is called Italian Plum Cake instead of French Plum Cake, but that is more to do with the sort of plums used than anything else.  (It calls for Italian plums.  Or Stanley plums.  I bought the only plums that Whole Foods had -- small, dark, ruby-purple flesh -- perfecto!)  The cake is exquisite. In fact, after Leo was in bed and dinner was done, the three of us managed to eat half of it.  Emilia loved it, like the classy little lady that she is.  And my only regret the next day was that we didn't eat the whole lot the night it came out of the oven.  Because let me tell you -- the cake does not last over night.  What was once gorgeous perfection is now a bit of soggy depressing mish-mash.  Drats!  And to think I had been looking forward to it all day.  So this is really the only mark against what is otherwise my new favorite cake ever.  Well, that and the fact the cookbook is filled with an awful lot of duck recipes.  But what really pushed me over the edge was reading the author's bio on the dustjacket -- this is a serious mark against the whole book.  It would appear that for six months out of every year, the author (a so called David Tanis) works in his 17th century teeny-tiny squashy kitchen with a shite oven and no counter space.  When I read this I yelled, 'I think I am going to hurl!  No, really!  I mean it this time.'  So Michael comes wandering over, mildly amused, and reads the jacket.  He then declares that there is nothing about it that he finds particularly annoying.  Can the man be serious?  Does he not know his wife at all?  Everything (everything!) about it was/is, in fact, PARTICULARLY annoying.  But, I digress.