Friday, August 31, 2007
Emma Leppermann plums, and a good old-fashioned plum cake
For weeks, K. has been asking me to check if they already sell Emma Leppermann plums at the market. These are his favourites, and also some of the best-loved plums in Estonia - juicy, flavoursome, sweet & tangy, large and pretty, round and yellow-pink (see picture here). (The cultivar was developed by a German gardener W. Leppermann back in 1897, and he named the tree after his wife; if you read Danish, then you can read more here and here:)
Last Saturday morning we headed to the market again to stock up on various fruit and vegetables. We were due to visit my parents afterwards, and knowing that their garden has a lot to offer - my mum's got a really green thumb - I asked my mum what any good daughter would: 'Mom, we're coming over for a cup of coffee later. Have you got anything in the garden for us?' She said she's got some plums and two 'zucchinis'. I made a mental note of that (some plums, two supersized marrows), and headed to the market, where I stocked up on lots of gorgeous late summer fruit and vegetables - some pears, beets, bell peppers, leeks, onions and broad beans from the vegetable aisles, and two bottles of spicy adjika from my favourite market lady. And, rather excitedly, I spent 50 kroons (that's about £2.20 or just over $3.00) on a kilogram of K's favourite plums.
When we arrived at my parents place, I was met by a huge plum tree absolutely stuffed with ripe, juicy, delicious Emma Leppermann plums. I had never realised that she had this huge tree there (my excuse is that my parents moved into the house when I was still living in Edinburgh, and during my twice-annual visits - early summer and Christmas - aren't exactly prime plum season). My sweet mum was quite amused when I told her we had just bought those very same plums at the market. She gave us two bags, and within half an hour we had picked about 10 kilograms of the best plums on earth! That's 500 kroons worth of plums!!!
Consequently, during the last week I've eaten more plums than I can remember. I've made two different types of plum jam - one 'traditional', one with rum (yum!!). I've made a plum compote which we've eaten with whipped cream as a dessert for a few days, and neither one of us seems to be tired yet. And I baked a very simple and satisfying plum cake, which we finished between us far too quickly.
Here's the cake. The recipe is adapted from "Kirsi- ja ploomikoogid. Magustoidud" (100 Rooga, 2007), but it's pretty similar to the one my mum used to make us years ago. 'Kodune' or 'homey' is the word K. used to describe this cake. It must be a compliment of a highest sort, as he was reaching for his fourth piece when saying that..
Note the beautiful yellow shade of the cake - we're using eggs from these very happy chicken.
500-600 grams ripe plums, washed
2 large eggs
250 grams sugar
200 ml kefir or buttermilk or yogurt
200 ml milk
125 grams butter, melted and cooled
350 grams plain flour/all-purpose flour
3.5 tsp baking powder
Halve the plums, remove the stones and cut plums into quarters.
Whisk eggs with sugar until pale and thick. Stir in kefir/buttermilk, milk and melted butter.
Mix flour with baking powder and fold into the egg mixture.
Pour into a lined 24x32 cm baking tray*, dot with plum quarters and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
Bake at 200C for about 30 minutes, until cake is golden brown and well risen (test for doneness with a sharp knife or wooden toothpick).
Cool slightly, then cut into squares.
* Our cake was 4 cm high, and that's how we like it. You could use a large baking tray, but your cake would be thinner.