Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake

I've always loved Italian plums ever since I ate a handful of them off of someone's homegrown tree.  They were ripe on the tree and that's when it's the best time to eat them.  I plucked one and bit into it, instantly I love how firm and sweet was the flesh.  Since then I'm always on the lookout for good Italian plum.  I found that those are sold in regular store are inferior to any homegrown plums.

Then while waiting for a plum fairy to come my way, I was given a surplus of Italian plums near the end of summer by one of my dearest friends, and to my joy, they're from homegrown tree.  What a blessing...  I said yes right away not realizing that one couldn't eat all 15 pounds of plums at one time.  I ended up freezing some of them and from a few, I made into this cake.  The cake was a wonderful juxtaposition of tender and crunchy texture of cornmeal, sweet and tart of plums.  The only thing I made different was the size of the pan, otherwise the recipe stayed the same.

Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake

Serves 8-10

½ pound unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for buttering loaf pan

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup yellow cornmeal

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons cognac (or any brandy)

Prepared plums (recipe below)

Butter a 5½x10-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter paper. Set pan aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, cornmeal and salt.

Cream together butter, rosemary, lemon zest and sugar until very light and fluffy.

Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in flour mixture, alternating with cognac, just until well-combined. Spoon 2/3 of batter into pan. Evenly distribute one-quarter of prepared plums over batter. Add rest of the batter. Spread remaining fruit over the top and, using a spoon or fork, push pieces down a little.

Bake for 60 minutes or until done, testing with a toothpick after 50 minutes. Cake should be nicely brown, pulling away from the edges of the pan and not too dry. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto your hand or a rack and quickly re-invert it onto another rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature. (The cake is also delicious sliced and toasted.)

Prepared Plums

6 large plums, pitted and cut into 6-8 wedges each

1/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons cognac (or rum or any brandy)

In a medium saucepan, cook plums with sugar, salt, lemon zest and rosemary over medium heat until fruit is very soft but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cognac.

Source:  The Wall Street Journal, Food & Drink, by Gail Monaghan