If berries mark the opening of summer and peaches the season’s height, the appearance of plums, especially the purple-skinned, yellow-fleshed Italian variety, herald its close and the transition to autumn.
No need to mourn (apple season will soon start, pumpkins are on their way to market), but rather savor (and even save) the last of the stone-fruit season.
While other varieties may be preferred for eating out of hand, Italian plums are great to cook with because of their firm flesh and slight tartness. Baking, roasting and preserving in syrup brings out their sweetness, while they hold their shape and texture despite the heat.
Recipe: Italian Plums in Clove-Infused Brown Sugar Syrup
If you can bring yourself to either make enough of these, and/or wait a few months to enjoy, they make excellent gifts at the holidays.
IIngredients per pint:
- 10 to 12 small to midsize Italian plums
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
1. Prepare your jars and water bath.
2. Rinse plums and, using a paring knife, score each on its base with a small x. Alternatively, cut each plum in half, and remove the pit.
3. Bring water and brown sugar to a boil in a small pot.
4. Place cloves and cinnamon stick into a waiting hot pint-sized jar. Pack plums into jar. Pour hot syrup over them. Wipe rim and screw lid on.
5. Process in water bath for 25 minutes.
6. Remove from water bath, set on a towel and let cool.
Recipe: Not-the-Original Plum Torte
This recipe is adapted from Marion Burros’ justly famous Original Plum Torte. A third of the wheat flour is replaced with superfine almond flour, and brown sugar shares the stage the white sugar. And although this cake needs no adornment, whipped cream (coconut or dairy) takes it from delicious to decadent. It’s also fabulous first thing in the morning for breakfast, if any lasts that long.
- 12 Small to mid-size plums, preferably Italian
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup superfine almond flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp almond extract
- sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a springform pan with a circle of parchement paper.
- Rinse and dry plums. Cut in half and remove pits. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add baking powder, flour, almond flour, eggs and almond extract.
- Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Place plums on top, skin-side up.
- Sprinkle top of cake with lemon juice, sugar and spices.
- Bake for 1 hour. Let cool slightly or all the way.