I recently visited my cousin Kris at her mountaintop home in southern New Hampshire. We sat out on her deck, acorns dropping like mini-bombs around us, and talked about family, movies (she and her husband are film producers), and food.
After a bit Kris went inside, and emerged moments later with cups of coffee and a cake. Always on the alert for promising new recipes, I started to pry. "What's that? Looks good. What's in it?" I said.
"Oh, it's those Italian plums on top of cake. Truly, this is about the only dessert I ever make. Why bother with any others, I think, when this is so good?" said Kris.
Further discussion revealed it was a recipe from Marian Burros' The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook. What's more, it's been featured on American Public Media's radio show, “The Splendid Table,” with host Lynn Rosetto Kasper. APM's Web site quotes Kasper as commenting, “Because of reader demand, this recipe has been published in one form or another in the New York Times almost every year since I went to work there in 1981.”
Gee – I guess LOTS of people think this recipe looks good!
Serendipitously, King Arthur Flour sponsored a company outing at a local orchard last weekend. Families gathered on a crisp, impossibly blue-and-gold September morning to enjoy hay rides, cider and fresh doughnuts, and acres and acres of apple trees and raspberry bushes, all heavily laden with fruit. The pickin's were easy, to say the least – perfect for kids.
Our online commerce director, Halley, stepped onto the apple scale for a group weigh-in with daughters Bella and Daisy.
They picked a TON of apples. Well, enough for pie and a huge crisp, anyway.
Me? I went for the raspberries. My mom and I picked 11 pints.
Berry cake, here I come!
There's nothing like late-summer berries, but they're as fragile as they are fleeting. I froze all but 2 pints, scooping out a cup to go on top of this Late Summer Berry Torte, along with a cup of blueberries I'd picked up at another farm stand.
Let's get started–
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Put 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder in a bowl.
Mix till thoroughly combined, then add 2 large eggs.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. You can supplement the vanilla with 1/4 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor, or Fiori di Sicilia; both add interesting, though slightly different flavor notes.
Beat briefly, just to combine.
Spread the batter in a lightly greased 8” x 8” or 9” x 9” square pan; or a 9” or 10” round pan. In the larger pans, the batter will seem quite thin; that's OK.
The original recipe calls for 24 halves pitted Italian prune plums. Kris says she uses 2 cups of whatever fruit she has on hand. I chose 1 cup each raspberries (red, and golden); and 1 cup blueberries.
Sprinkle the berries (or spread the fruit) evenly atop the batter.
Like this. Isn't that pretty?
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
It looks like you're using a lot, but don't worry; it's all good.
Put the cake in the 350°F oven, and bake it for about 35 minutes.
A cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean, and the parts of the cake showing between the berries will be golden brown.
Serve with whipped cream, if desired. Sounds pretty desirable to me, so let's whip up some cream, using a trick I just learned:
Yup, Marshmallow Fluff, long-time star of the Fluffernutter Sandwich.
Whip 1 cup heavy cream till it holds peaks. This cream actually got away from me; it's too stiff. Absolutely edible, it just doesn't look smooth and pretty.
Add 1/2 cup Fluff, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Mix till thoroughly combined. The Fluff helps stabilize the whipped cream, meaning you can whip it up ahead, then refrigerate till it's time to serve. It also adds just the right amount of sweetening, yielding a whipped cream where cream is the hero, not sugar.
And here's the result of our berry-picking labors. How sweet (and fresh) it is!
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Late Summer Berry Torte.