About four years ago when I was making a critical decision of leaving my life in Dallas to attend the Culinary Institute of America, I got a call from my mom. She told me a story about Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa who went from working at the White House to running a specialty food store. “Are you telling me to follow my dreams, mom?” I asked, thinking she was using Ina as an inspiration. She wasn’t, she was just sharing.
Fast forward to my decision to attend the school and years of emotional, physical, and financial struggles, most of which have been overcome with hard work, support and a little bit of luck.
My mom called me last week, informing me that Ina will be speaking at the Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. “Would you want to go?” she asked. I bought two tickets and we went. I haven’t seen my mom so happy in a long time.
Ina’s visit came in the middle of the Jewish New Year. In honor of Ina and the New Year, I decided to bake Ina’s Plum Cake “Tatin”. Unfortunately, the store was out of plums, so I bought a bag of pluots instead. Pluots are a hybrid of plums and apricots. If you haven’t tasted one before, you’re in for a treat! I made quite a few changes to the original recipe and the family loved it! The Pluot Cake was a perfect sweet ending to a New Year dinner.*
Pluot New Year Cake
7 tablespoons softened butter, divided
8-10 pluots, halved and pitted
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 12-inch tart pan with one tablespoon of butter.
2. Arrange pluots cut side up inside the pan.
3. Beat together six tablespoons of butter with sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat one egg at a time until well incorporated.
4. Add sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla.
5. Sift together flour, baking powder and kosher salt and slowly incorporate into the butter mixture.
6. Spread the batter over the pluots and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden and the batter is set.
7. Cool the cake slightly and serve warm or at room temperature, spooning the pluots out on individual plates.
Alterations to the original recipe
-I used a 12-inch tart instead of a 9-inch
-I skipped the step of making caramel (less total sugar, one less step, and still delicious)
-I placed the pluots cut side up and did not invert the final cake
-I used large eggs instead of extra large (that’s what I had on hand)
-I increased lemon zest from 1/2 teaspoon to a zest of a whole lemon
-I used both white and light brown sugar