Grandma Esther’s Plum and Walnut Cake
There’s a lot of food that surrounds a wedding. Cake being one of the most important elements, clearly.
At our wedding, there will be rich, celebratory hors d’oeuvres and rich, festive main courses. There will late-night food–“kid” food, like sliders and quesadillas (it’d be cool to have these on the menu). There will be a Friday night dinner, which we’ve just seen the menu for. There will be cake.
After we eat all that, we’ll probably want to starve ourselves for a week.
And after we do that, we’ll start eating marriage food–which, you know, will be kind of a lot like the food we eat now.
And as I’m sure you know if you’ve been reading for a bit, Alex and I have deep-seated obsessions with certain dinners. Those dinners have their own aura of tradition. It only took 3+ years for that aura to grow. Sundays, we make pasta with tomato sauce. When we need cheering up, we delight in ginger-scallion noodles. We roast a whole chicken just so we can feast on the crispy potatoes stuck on the bottom of the pan.
The food we eat mainly takes inspiration from our families’ old recipes. Except for the ginger scallion noodles–those are pure Momofuku. After we get married, I’ve been told I get recipes from Alex’s Italian grandmother. And from Alex’s father’s side–the Greek recipes.
The other half of the marriage are recipes from my side. This one is from Grandma Esther, who grew up in Brooklyn, just east of where we live now. She used to bike along Eastern Parkway to the main branch of the Brooklyn Library, right in Grand Army Plaza. Right where Alex and I met.
Grandma Esther’s plum and walnut cake is of Russian-Jewish-Brooklyn descent. It’s an oil cake you can eat after a meat meal if you’re kosher. Grandma Esther kept kosher until the day her sons couldn’t resist the scent of bacon.
Now it’s become a handy cake that doesn’t require a mixer and acts as a catch-all for summer fruit. It’s a perfect match, truly meant to be with these tiny bright red plums.
These plums were so red that when Alex walked by the mixing bowls, he asked if I was making a cake with tomatoes.
I just love this cake. Generous pours of oil and sugar give the batter a luscious thickness. As the cake bakes, the top crust hardens til it’s crackly and crisp. The sweetness still makes way for the tanginess of the plums. And I love how the cake marries an old recipe perfectly with the way we eat now. With fruit from the farmers’ market and no butter in Alex’s cakes.
This post is part of Food Network’s Summer Fest! Check out what other bloggers are cooking with plums:
Ingredients, Inc.: Pork, Plums and Rosemary Kabobs
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Plum Pizza With Goat Cheese
Cooking Channel: Best Plum Dessert Recipes
Delicious Lean: Plum Delicious Pork Chops
Daily*Dishin: Roasted Chicken With Plum Chili Salsa
Healthy Eats: 6 Ways to Cook With Plums
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Time for Plum Cobbler?
Thursday Night Dinner: Plum BBQ Chicken
From My Corner of Saratoga: Plum Upside Down Cake
Cooking With Elise: Vanilla Plum Tart
Sweet Life Bake: Plum Pineapple Margarita
And Love It Too: Plum Pickin’ Pineapple Jam
FN Dish: Perfect Plum Recipes
Grandma Esther’s Plum and Walnut Cake
Makes one 9 x 9-inch cake
No need for a mixer here. The cake comes together in minutes.
1 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 cups plums, pitted, cut in bite-sized pieces
Oil a 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the oil, sugar, and eggs.
In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Pour the dry ingredients over the wet and fold in. Fold in the fruit and the walnuts.
Bake about 50 minutes, until the top is crisp and brown and a toothpick or skewer inserted in comes out clean.