One of my favorite all-time recipes is Emily Luchetti's plum-cardamom cake from her Classic Stars Desserts book. One of my sculpture professors in college was also a pastry chef and introduced me to the recipe. She did wonders with what would seem like the simplest of ingredients (spun sugar sculptures--unbelievable stuff). This end-of-summer cake is one of the best from those California days. The color the baked fruit turns is so fine. Not to mention, as a guilty pleasure, it's awfully good for breakfast....
8 ounces butter (the original recipe calls for 12 but I don't find it's necessary)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
6 plums, not too ripe, pitted and sliced.
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 ounces butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch baking pan--round or square--with parchment paper. Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in brown sugar until dissolved and smooth. Pour sauce into lined pan. Arrange the plum slices, slightly overlapping, in a pattern--lines or circles depending on the shape of your pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a measuring cup, mix together milk and vanilla. Combine sugar and butter until creamy. Alternating dry ingredients with milk mixture, blend batter together slowly. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Spread the batter on top of the plums.
Bake until a skewer comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert cake. Serve warm.
(Plum image from here.)