These summer days are getting away from me. They’re flying by faster than my teenage self on a highway, and to be honest, I can’t say that I’m very upset about it. This has been the hottest and driest summer on record here in Portland, and I’m bone tired from a combination of heat exhaustion, endlessly watering the plants, and constant physical discomfort. Our house, you see, has no air conditioning. It was also built in 1937, which means it also essentially has no effective insulation, and all the windows are single pane and very drafty. Basically, whatever temperature it is outside, our house is within 10 degrees of that. So in short: I. Am. Over. It.
But to keep myself from going insane until it’s nice and rainy and cloudy again, I’ve been focusing on appreciating the delicious late summer fruits + veggies that are flowing from my garden, my parents yard, and the farmer’s market. And with that attempt at a positive mindset, I’ve made this delicious plum charlotte cake. Okay, I lied. Not about the delicious part, I promise it tastes good. It’s actually not really a charlotte. It’s just baked in a cake pan that’s moulded to emulate the shape of a charlotte. And if you’re wondering “why is she going on about a charlotte and what the heck is it, anyway?”, I don’t blame you. A charlotte is basically layers of cake and fruit puree or custard kept in place with a wall of lady finger biscuits. It’s also known as an icebox cake, (you’ve probably seen them on the Great British Bake Off, if you watch that show).
Anywho, now that we’re all on the same page about what a charlotte is, let’s talk about what’s actually in this cake. It’s a simple cake batter with lemon zest, plum juice, a touch of whiskey, vanilla, and some finely chopped plums stirred in. You can also feel free to substitute any other stone fruit in place of the plums, like peaches or pluots or nectarines. I will also say that this cake is a lot easier to make than it looks, the fancy cake mould does all the legwork here. All you do is make the batter in your stand mixer, pour it in, bake it, and voila! It’s lovely. And then you can just top with some optional glaze and fresh fruit, if you want to dress it up a bit. It’s delicious just the same, with or without the toppings. I hope you enjoy it, my friend, and that it encourages you to tolerate the heat just a tad bit longer.
Plum Cake Charlotte
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup milk room temp
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed plum juice
- 1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh plums or other stone fruit folded in at end
Whiskey Glaze + Toppings (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 tablespoon whiskey
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sliced or halved stone fruit for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt until combined. Set aisde.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar at medium speed until combined, light, and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce the mixing speed to low, and alternate between adding the flour mixture and the milk in two increments. Add the plum juice, bourbon, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated, taking care not to over mix. Fold in the finely chopped fresh plums by hand.
- Pour the batter into a well-greased and lightly floured 6-cup capacity cake pan. Bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out relatively clean (a bit of plum goop is fine, just no wet batter), about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack and unmolding the cake. Allow to cool to room temperature, then top with the glaze + fruit.
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, whiskey, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until combined. Feel free to adjust the quantities to your desired consistency (so if you want the glaze to be thinner, use more milk. If you want it to be thicker, use less milk).