summer plum cake
Happy New Year! I’m writing today from my little office at the beach house. Of course it’s not really an office. It’s actually just our outdoor table here at the bach. It’s a lot more scenic than my usual office – think daisies on the lawn, a waving curtain of agapanthus, a bird chorus, and several baby bunnies taking a chance on those daisies. Bruno, oblivious to the bunnies, is as usual snoozing at my feet.
It’s nice to see some sunshine today. Because, as those of you on holiday in New Zealand will appreciate, the first few days of January haven’t been particularly summery. At least all that rain has been good for the garden and on those water restrictions that December’s amazingly good weather unwittingly fostered.
And it has still been wonderful to be on holiday. Arriving here at the bach, late on Christmas Eve, after a hugely busy few days, weeks and months, and suddenly those stress levels (mostly) melt away. A few grey, wet days haven’t done too much to disrupt the leisurely flow of eat, read, walk, sleep and repeat. Emphasis on eat. All that Instagram joking about resembling a mince pie because I’ve eaten so many of them is in danger of being not far from the truth. (Insert eye-roll emoji!)
The upside of a morning walk up through the valley is a chance to catch up on my favourite podcasts and a guilt free treat or nine later in the day.
Puddings and holidays go hand in hand for me. Well truthfully, if someone offers me a delicious dessert any time of year I’m unlikely to say no. I love dessert! But I guess the difference when I’m on holiday is that I actually make the time to cook dessert more often, and given that we often have shared and communal dinners out here at the beach, there are plenty of occasions to make a little sweet treat for everyone to enjoy.
Here in Hawkes Bay, the abundance of beautiful summer fruit picked straight from the orchard calls for fruity desserts of some kind. Tonight we’re having dinner at one of our beach neighbour’s and I’m on dessert duty for 12. My go-to is always this easy cake-y pudding. The original version is one of Annabel Langbein’s delicious recipes and I’ve adapted it for my not-so-well-stocked pantry and rudimentary kitchen here at the beach, and I promise, it’s easy and delicious, especially served warm, dusted with a little icing sugar and a decent dollop of whipped cream or greek yoghurt. You can make it with whatever summer fruit you have on hand – apricots, peaches or nectarines – but my favourite is plums. I love the tanginess of the juicy plums mixed with the sweetness of the cake.
To pour over the top, I’ve simply simmered some more plums, a little sugar, a little water and some orange blossom water together gently until they’ve reduced to a jammy syrup. Yum!
Summer Plum Cake (for 6-8)
Grease a 23cm springform cake tin and line base with baking paper.
5 or 6 plums (or apricots or nectarines or peaches)
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 dessertspoon orange blossom water (optional, but I love it)
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
1 and 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest, vanilla and orange blossom water. Mix in yoghurt, milk and baking powder, then flour. Do not over mix. Spoon in to prepared tin. Halve and slice fruit, remove stones, and arrange on top of cake mixture, cut side up.
Bake 180 degrees C for approximately 45 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with cream, yoghurt or ice cream.
It’s almost a case of the simpler the better. Living is slow here. Life is simple, and daily happenings revolve around the enjoyment of food, friends, family and time spent in our little community whether around the table or out-of-doors. I can’t help but think how lucky we are to have this little piece of paradise.
(Styling and photography by Amanda Holland for perfectly imperfect living)