Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Plum Sponge

I'm down to the last handful of fresh prune plums *sob*. At least the Concord grapes will be along soon to console me (fickle, I am).This is a beautiful dessert, and much easier to make than it appears, and I can't think of a nicer way to use the last of what were the nicest box of plums I've ever purchased.

The components are rather straightforward-spongecake, whipped cream, and poached plums. The recipe can be halved easily if you find it too large (you will have extra cake and plums but that isn't a problem around here). Assemble the cake several hours ahead so the cake can soften.

For the Plums:
2 lbs. fresh prune plums pitted and halved
Juice of a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine all and let macerate for 1 hour. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer and cook until plums are softened-about 15 minutes. Remove plums with a slotted spoon, strain liquid and return to pan. Reduce until you have a thickened syrup. Cool. Pour over plums.

For the Sponge:
6 eggs, separated at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Grease and flour a jelly roll pan or 1 large rimmed baking sheet. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Beat eggs, sugar, and water together until light and thick. Slowly beat in flour and baking powder. Beat egg whites until stiff. Carefully fold into flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake 8-10 minutes for small sheet, about 15 for large. Remove from oven and carefully loosen sides of cake with a sharp knife. Invert onto a rack and cool. You can also treat it like a jelly roll and invert it onto a towel dusted with icing sugar if you prefer to roll it for presentation (which would also be really impressive).

When cake and filling are cool, cut into two or three layers (or roll as for a jelly roll)and brush each with a bit of the plum syrup and some apricot jam (optional, but why wouldn't you want apricot jam with your plums? The combination is a knock out). Layer on some plums, top with the second layer, and repeat with third if using. Let the cake sit in the fridge for an hour to set. Meanwhile, make a whipped cream sweetened with icing sugar (the cornstarch in the icing sugar helps it to stabilise). Frost the cake, and decorate as desired (I used bits of plum jelly candy). By the second day, the cake will soften into something resembling a trifle, which I would absolutely add custard to because hey, why wouldn't you add custard if you already have a trifle. But no jelly-this isn't a school dinner.

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