Where's the Plum in My Plum Cake?: Spiced Plum Streusel Cake with Toffee Glaze

David Lebovitz's cookbook Ready for Dessert offered a tempting-looking recipe that seemed like it would be a good use of my stash of Italian prune plums: a Spiced Plum Streusel Cake with Toffee Glaze. Lebovitz says that, "This cake combines everything I crave: tangy plums, toffee with a bit of salt, and buttery cake."

This cake calls for both cinnamon and cardamon in the cake and in the streusel. I have never been a fan of cardamon and so I decided to omit it and use more cinnamon instead. To make the cake, you cream room temperature butter with sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs; and alternately add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt) and liquid ingredients (buttermilk and vanilla). You pour the batter into a springform pan (I used a loose-bottomed cheesecake pan), arrange sliced plums on top, and sprinkle streusel (sliced almonds, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter) over the fruit before baking.

After the cake was completely cool, I released it from the pan and poured over a glaze made by cooking butter with dark brown sugar, cream, and salt, with vanilla added at the end.
This cake was springy and moist. The streusel was delicious and the sweet toffee glaze was the bomb -- I think it makes the cake. But I still thought the cake left something to be desired. I used the specified quantity of plums (340 grams) and there was a solid layer of fruit between the cake batter and the streusel. But I could hardly taste the plums. As you can see from the photo above, this cake was quite tall; it rose right to the rim of my 2-inch tall pan during baking. I thought there was too much cake and too few plums. Plus, as much as I enjoyed the streusel and toffee glaze, they also competed with the fruit. Of course, I sort of went off script by using Italian plums instead of the more tart Santa Rosa plums Lebovitz recommends, so I accept some responsibility for the plums fading into the background. 

Objectively, this was a very good cake. But I can't say it was a great plum cake -- at least not with the Italian plums I used -- because I wanted the plums to be front and center. But plum issues aside, this was a lovely spice cake with a fantastic almond streusel and decadent toffee glaze.

Recipe: "Spiced Plum Streusel Cake with Toffee Glaze" from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz, recipe available here at davidlebovitz.com. The online version of the recipe is slightly different from the cookbook version I used; the latter has only 1.5 tablespoons butter in the streusel and a different weight measurement (but the same volume measurement) for the flour -- 210 grams instead of 175 grams.

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