Black Doris Plum Syrup Cake

Sometimes baking really does make you feel better.

Today I was in one of those womanly funks that just wouldn't go away. I tried supermarket shopping, flicking through my cookbooks and I even bought a new tart tin but nothing would rid me of this bluesy feeling. 

I used this mood as an excuse to bake a cake without my mother raging at me for a) making us all fat and b) costing her the earth in ingredients. 

Recommended to me today by a family friend (as we both sat there and got our hair dids) was Julie Le Clerc's black Doris plum syrup cake from her book Favourite Cakes. It sure did look marvellous in its juicy and sticky wonder spread across the page. What attracted me most to this cake was the beautiful fluted bundt pan that it was cooked in making the most amazing pattern on the outer surface of the cooked cake. I traipsed through Mum's baking pan drawer and found one that almost equated the beauty of Julie's pan. Unfortunately our pan was a few centimetres too big for the recipe stated. I also was unable to find a 410g tin of black Doris plums, only a 820g tin. Alas!

Wanna know what I did?

I made a bigger cake.

I know they say that we shouldn't play around and that we should always use the tins specified blah blah blah. But you know what? I don't happen to have every single tin in every single size, I wish I did and I sure am close but not close enough. 

I decided to increase the recipe by a quarter. The only exception to this rule was the tin of plums, I went right ahead and used the whole 820g tin. There were just enough to do two rings of them in this cake. I also used all of the tin's juice for the syrup; you can never have too much syrup. Ok you can. Never mind. 

Below i'll give you the exact proportions that I used for my 25cm diameter bunt pan. It filled the pan almost to the top so if you do infact have a smaller pan, reduce the ingredients by a fifth and you should be sweet.

Black Doris Plum Syrup Cake
Adapted from Julie Le Clerc's Favourite Cakes 
Makes one large bundt cake (25cm)

1x 820g tin black Doris plums in syrup
230g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups plain, unsweetened yoghurt
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

Plum Syrup:
left over juice from plum tin
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup white sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake.

Drain the plums, reserve and strain the juice. Cut plums in half and remove the stones from each one. 

Grease your bundt pan and dust it with flour. 

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated and the final volume has almost doubled. 

Stir in the yoghurt.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until homogenous. Make sure you use a scraper to get down at the mixture at the bottom of the bowl. 

Spoon one third of the mixture into the base of the bundt tin. dot about six or seven plum halves over the top of the mixture. Spoon the next third of the mixture over the top of the plums. Place the next lot of plums over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter over the last lot of plums. Use a spoon to flatten the mixture in the tin.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer or butter knife comes out clean. 

Leave the cake to cool for half an hour before turning out onto a cake rack. To remove from the tin, run a knife around the cakes edges, and sort of shake the pan to loosen it. Even gently bang it against the bench.

Leave to cool completely before pouring over the syrup. Remember the rule: Cold cake and hot syrup or hot cake and cold syrup.

While you are waiting for the cake to fully cool make the syrup by placing all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmering until the syrup becomes thick and well, syrupy. This could take up to 10 minutes of strong simmering. 

In this hot weather you are going to want to keep this cake in the fridge.

Serve with a nice dollop of plain yoghurt (we used mascarpone but I think yoghurt would be much better) and enjoy!

Date, Walnut and Lemon Syrup Loaf

Good evening all from rainy Auckland!

I am home for the mid year uni holidays. I have been home a week and already I have watched three seasons of Greys Anatomy, baked four batches of cupcakes and two batches of cookies for Mum. I am bored of the basics and in need of something new and exciting. I really want to make a pink ombre pastel cake, that might be tomorrow's activity.

When I get bored at home, I pull out all of Mum's recipe books searching for inspiration and pretty pictures haha.

In today's Sunday Star Times' Sunday insert, there was a feature by Ray McVinnie. In this feature there was a recipe for these date, walnut and lemon syrup loaves. Since I am a fan of McVinnie's work I decided to give them a try. They looked so nicely styled in the photo.

I am so glad I gave them a go. Chris even liked them. The dates made it rich and moist and the sugar syrup goes crunchy on the top. All with a subtle lemony flavour going on in the background. Oh wait and the crunchy walnuts. Don't forget the walnuts!

Ray McVinnie's Date, Walnut and Lemon Syrup Loaf
(from Sunday 24.06.2012)

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1 cup chopped dried dates
1 egg
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup walnut pieces

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees and line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water, then add the chopped dates. Let these soak.

Beat the egg and sugar together until thick and a pale yellow colour. Stir in the melted butter. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and add the lemon zest. Fold these in. Stir in the date mixture (including the water) and the walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Mix together the juice and zest of 1 large lemon and half a cup of caster sugar and pour this cold mixture over the hot loaf (as in as soon as it comes out of the oven hot).

Once cooled slightly, slice into nice chunky slices and cover in butter :) This is best served still warm and with a cup of tea.