I broke my wrist a couple of weeks ago, swing dancing with my husband, Jamie. The first week we had so many wonderful items dropped by that I barely had to lift a spoon to cook. I was a bit more capable and in the mood this past week, enough so that I gave this Prune Cake a try.
Now you will laugh at me when I tell you why this cake, the recipe for which I’ve had for some time, appealed to me so much this week. I have had to take painkillers, which have the all too common side effect of leaving the patient longing for bran cereal, bran muffins, dried fruit in any form and lots of it, anything promising fiber, whole grains and, of course, prunes. I kept on hand a steady supply of stewed prunes that I swallowed early and often.
So as I flipped through a file folder of “Recipes to Try,” this one practically leapt into my hand. Not that I truly thought the cake would be, as Mother used to say, “good for what ails you,” but it had that magic word prune in the title.
A few years ago, the prune producers of America tried to rebrand prunes as the more elegant-sounding “dried plums” because they were weary of the fruit’s dowdy reputation. I don’t think they succeeded, though of course there are lots of lovely things to do with prunes besides ingesting them as a daily necessity.
An island neighbor, Linda Gilles, gave me this recipe eight years ago after I asked for it at a church function. She brought it as a tea cake, and I thought it was lovely and rich, full of spices and with a tender moistness. The recipe hails from the South, the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Ky. It features buttermilk in both the cake and the sauce. I was generous with spices. I started with dried pitted prunes and crammed a cup full of them, then stewed them up. I took a potato masher to them because with one hand it was easier than using a food processor.
Serve this as a single-layer cake with sauce on it. It will produce two 9-inch layers or one 9-by-13-inch cake.
Looking for …
Chocolate shortcakes (or scones or biscuits). We are still looking for this recipe. Ann Barnett in Greenbush inquired about this recipe because she thought they would be good with strawberries. Anyone? I suppose I could experiment but I would rather start with advice from one of you good people.
Contact: Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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2 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1½ cups sugar
1 cup cooked, chopped prunes
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and oil and line baking pan(s) with waxed paper. Sift dry ingredients together. Put oil, eggs, buttermilk, and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat well together, add dry ingredients and fold in prunes and nuts. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center springs back when you touch it. Make the sauce while the cake bakes. Take from the oven and let it cool 10 minutes.
1 cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in the buttermilk
1 tablespoon corn syrup
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
Mix all together in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute. Set aside.
Invert still-warm cake onto a serving platter. Spoon sauce over and let it soak in, using all the sauce.