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.

Plum cake
(Lihtne ploomikook)
20 pieces

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.


Alanna Kellogg said...

Gorgeous! (I guess K's really glad you met now, eh?)

Dagmar said...

Mmmm, it looks so yummy. I love plums!

Dagmar said...

And I wish that my mum had a garden with delicious plums :-)

Anonymous said...

Could you make this cakes with apricots instead of plums? Looks very yummy!!

Andreea said...

this looks great. plums: something to look out at the market tomorrow :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What a beautiful plum cake! I've never heard of this variety of plums, but I can find lots of beautiful fruits at the farmers' market this week, so I'll pick up something else and try your recipe.

Anonymous said...

hi nami,

my mum, who was german, used to make a plum cake just like this
yumm !
meg, pennypincherspantry uk

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! And I LOVE those dishes -- are they old or new?

Maarja said...

Me korjasime täna aiast suure korvitäie ploome, 15 kilo.
Esimese laari moosi sain valmis ja siis just mõtlesin,et pean tulema su blogi lugema ja vaatama äkki oled midagi ploomidest kirjutanud. Ja voila!!
Homme teen ülejäänutest seda rummiga moosi ja proovin ka koogi ära.

Shaun said...

Pille - What a fabulous Summer treat. I love the look of this cake and the description of the plums. There are so many varietals out there; I wish we had more in New Zealand. I have provided a link to this page from my post on pflaumenkuchen.

Katie Zeller said...

What a gorgeous plum cake! I've never heard or seen that type. I have plum trees but they are small yellow and purple ones... fussy to work with but good, just the same.
The jam looks, as you said, 'yummy'!

Anh said...

This is a beautiful cake! I love old-fashioned stuff like this.

Valentina said...

Pille, when I read your posts where you mention your parents fruit garden, I keep making this mental picture of it.How wonderful to be able to get all these lovely things from it. The cake looks gorgeous. I love cakes with plums. Also loved learning about this Estonian variety.

Maarja said...

This particular cake was as "awful" as you described. I had 5 pieces.
And it brings childhood memories, real grandma cake.

Anonymous said...

The cake looks lovely! I really enjoy cakes like this and if it is as good as your apple cake I will love it for sure :)

(romantic plum story...wish our fruits had names like that)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Pille, I love everything you've made with the plums - this cake is spectacular!

Jeanne said...

Why, oh why don't I have a plum tree in my garden?! The cake looks glorious - I made a spicy plum crumble the other night which I really must blog. Trying to get the last out of the summer stone fruit while I can...

lobstersquad said...

the cake looks beautiful and is going straight into the recipe file.
but when I read the word adjika I got such a rush of proust-madeleine-pavlov´s dog. that was a real winner recommendation.

Shayne said...

this is perfect for my daughter and I to make together. thank you


Susan from Food Blogga said...

I just asked my mom if she had a good recipe for plum cake, and here you provide me with a yummy one. Thanks Pille! BTW-your roasted onions with blue cheese sound fabulous. I'll be trying those very soon.

Caty said...

Looks fantastic!

mycookinghut said...

Looks yummy!!

Pille said...

Alanna – I don’t hear him complaining indeed :)

Dagmar – mmm. I’m sure you get to eat plenty of wonderful plums when you visit Poland, no?

Pene – of course you could, any (stone) fruit would work, really! It’s just that apricots are neither in season or local, so it makes more sense to make this with plums at the moment.

Lydia – any juicy plum would work for this recipe, so I’m sure you’ll find something at the farmers’ market.

Meg – I guess it’s a very European plum cake :)

Molly – I love those dishes, too. They’re from 1930s, a housewarming gift from my paternal grandma via my parents. The decoration is by an entrepreneurial Estonian porcelan painter Nikolai Langebraun. Sadly, I do not have the whole coffee set :(

Maarja – ploomimoos rummiga ja see kook on mu tänavuse ploomirepertuaari kindlad hitid – mõlemat olen nüüdseks teinud 2 laari :)

Shaun – I should try something like your yeast-pastry
Pflaumenkuchen with the next batch of plums!

Katie – my mum’s garden is pretty varied. She’s got a huge Emma Leppermann tree, a smaller yellow egg plum tree and a gorgeously pink Duke of Edinburgh tree, as well as a damson tree. But I don’t think they’ve ever been as full of plums!

Anh – old-fashioned cakes have a charm and comfort factor that are hard to resist :)

Valentina – I am very lucky to have a mum like that with a garden like that :)

Joey – yep, it’s as tasty as my Canadian apple cake, though still different..

Patricia – thank you so much for your kind words! Have you got lots of nice plums in Brazil?

Jeanne – well, I haven’t got a plum tree in my garden either (yet:) Looking forward to reading about your spicy plum crumble – there’s still plenty of plums to eat here!!

Lobstersquad – well, you’d be the fourth reader I know that have already made this cake then :) And so glad to hear that you took to adjika, too. I need to return all those small jars to the adjika lady or she’ll refuse to sell me one of her precious bottles next time!!

Shayne – it’s a pretty straightforward cake indeed. Hope your daughter will enjoy baking and eating it!

Susan – thank you! I’ve already made those roasted onions with blue cheese again, and can see myself serving them on several occasions over the next few months. An easy recipe, but such a pleasing combination!

Andreea, Caty, Lemongrass – thank you for popping by!