Purple Plum Torte

Marian Burros published this torte recipe in the New York Times in 1982, bringing it back by request every September until 1989, rarely varying a thing. By the last year, the headline was “Once More (Sigh), The Plum Torte.”
June 15, 2015

About this recipe

Fifteen years later, when Amanda Hesser polled the Times’s readership for their favorite (and most stained) recipes for The Essential New York Times Cookbook, this one still had more than three times the votes of any other.

Where does the attachment come from? It may be that the recipe is simple in method and flawless in results: The plums are perched in a batter that puffs up elegantly around them. The instructions also allow a rare versatility for a baked good—namely, how to balance the relative sweetness or sourness of your plums (with more or less sugar and lemon strewn across the top). Why mess with a good thing? Many of Burros’s readers saw no reason to.

genius TIP

Use peak-season plums if you’ve got them, but this is also a good place to stick any tart, underripe plums (or other stone fruits) you wouldn’t bother eating out of hand. Baking improves their character.

Reprinted with permission from Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Marian Burros. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photograph: James Ransom © 2015

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs, and beat well. Spoon the batter into a springform of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with (about) 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, approximately, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired (but first, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag and seal). Or cool to lukewarm, and serve. To serve a torte that has been frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300°.


Reprinted with permission from Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Marian Burros.
Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs: James Ransom © 2015

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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup sugar, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 24 halves small, pitted purple plums (or as many as will fit on your cake) Fresh lemon juice, for topping Ground cinnamon, for topping

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