Plum Cake

In honor of Spring (I guess?) the hospital gift shop, home of the terrifying death clown-doctor seen earlier, is keeping it classy with this plaque:


I am still very unable to conceptualize the person who makes the decision that these specific things are likely to appeal to people visiting sick loved ones.

Hi all! Right now I’m kicking ass and taking names in the pediatric ICU, where every moment is filled with heroic choices, snatching children from the jaws of death. Why, just today I:

Saved a girl…from boredom by clearing her to go to the playroom.

Rescued a teen…from dirtiness by telling the nurse she could saline lock his IV so he could take a shower.


No need to thank me, I’m just doing my job.

All joking aside the PICU does do important work, and can be very gratifying. Kids can look sick as stink for ages, but when their recovery takes off, man it takes off in a way that really doesn’t seem to happen in adults. I feel like I’m learning a ton, although home call continues to suck so very, very much.

But now I’m here to save YOU!…from mediocre desserts. This is a weird time of year for fruit, because spring favorites like strawberries are tantalizingly close, but not quite here, and winter staples like apples are beginning to get kind of mealy and meh. Plums shouldn’t be good, but for some reason they are at my grocery store? Thus, plum cake, from a fantastic recipe damned closed to unchanged from that at Smitten Kitchen.

The ingredients are simple, simple, simple. With the exception of plums, they are likely in your pantry/refrigerator already.


You can read the recipe below, but basically you take the not-plum things (also I guess not the lemon or cinnamon) and make them into a cake in the standard fashion – butter with sugar, add eggs, add dry ingredients. The original recipe, like all recipes, advises mixing the dry ingredients together before adding to the wet. I, as always, ignored this completely; the world didn’t come to an end, and my confusion about why this is even a step continues. If anyone knows, please chime in.

The batter goes into a pan, and is topped with the plums. Note the design – in my rather haphazard baking style this is pretty much the equivalent of hand-crafted marzipan animals. It’s supposed to be all skin sides up, but my grocery doesn’t sell the cute little Italian plums, it sells the huge honking American ones, so I have to cut them in quarters, not halves.

uncooked 1

Then come the toppings: lemon, lots and lots of cinnamon, and a bit of leftover sugar. Goodbye pattern, it was nice knowing ya.

uncooked 2

Bake, bake, bake… As you can see, our collection of blue towels remains strong. I cannot believe how many blue towels I have this year – I’m in the ED more, so I suture more. I filled the drawer and half a cupboard. I gave away at least 45 over the holidays, and the cupboard is half filled again.


To avoid the bits of unincorporated sugar above, I probably should’ve put more lemon juice on.

And, now it’s time to eat.

cake slice

The cake has a lovely, jammy, not too sweet quality to it. It is delightful alone, and would be good with a spoonful of happy plain yogurt on top too. Am I the only one who sees a smile in this yogurt top?

smiling yogurt


Plum Cake
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  1. 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 1 cup unbleached flour
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  6. Pinch of salt (or no salt if using salted butter)
  7. 2-3 medium plums
  8. 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  9. 1/2 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9" round baking pan.
  2. Cream butter with 1/2 cup sugar, reserving remainder.
  3. Add eggs one at a time (or both at once if you're feeling rebellious).
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Scrape into the pan (the batter will be thick) and pat down.
  6. Slice the plums into 1/4ths and place on the batter, skin sides up on skinned pieces.
  7. Top with the remaining 1/4th cup sugar, then the cinnamon, then all the juice from the half-lemon.
  8. Bake 45-50 minutes.

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