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
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups plain, unsweetened yoghurt
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
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!