One of the blogs I visit frequently is David Lebovitz’s Paris based site. I went to University in Paris and I still find it to be the most charming city in Europe. Yes, it’s true, Parisians work in mysterious ways and it can take you a lifetime to finally get clued up on all the intricate do’s and don’ts (I gave up after 4 years) but the wealth of culture to be found is incredible. Since I have no plans to move back to the Paris in this lifetime, it’s nice to be able to live vicariously through David.
I like that his site gives me access to a professional chef’s experience, recipes, tips and adventures. There are so many great food blogs out there. The overwhelming majority of which are run by enthusiastic amateurs and a lot of them are really charming but really, who wants to learn from a novice? David Lebovitz worked at Chez Panisse for 13 years! He is someone I want to learn from.
Not convinced? Check out his books. At the moment I am cooking my way through Ready for Dessert. I was up all night with it when I first got it, trying to decide what to make first. The recipes are inspired and I love that measurements are given in cups, ounces and metric! It takes a really dedicated author / chef to do all those conversions so you the reader and aspiring baker, don’t have to.
This coffee cake caught my eye because it has many dimensions. There is a soft aromatic sponge, tart fruit and a crunchy almond topping. Every bite you take is slightly different than the one before or the one that is to come.
The recipe calls for quite a bit of cardamom, which is slightly unusual in a cake recipe. My primary association of cardamom had been a negative one, I was always being served cardamom scented inky coffee in the Middle East, tar like and so strong even the tiniest polite sip (basically wetting my tongue) would make my stomach lurch. Slowly but surely I have learned that cardamom can be a wonderful spice when used wisely – for example to flavour some poached fruit or in this delicious cake.
Plum Streusal Coffee Cake with Toffee Glaze. Ready For Dessert David Lebovitz
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1+1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1+1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1+1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
5 medium sized plums, pitted and sliced into eights
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. heavy cream
large pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 175C. Butter the bottom and sides of a 23 cm springform pan.
2. In a medium bowl combine streusal ingredients and toss with your fingers or a fork until evenly moistened. Set aside.
3. To make the cake, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add cinnamon and cardamom and mix well.
4. In a stand mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 – 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each one is fully incorporated. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the vanilla and buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plum slices in concentric circles on top of the batter and gently press them in. Sprinkle the streusal over the fruit. Bake until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Let cool. Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Release the sides of the springform.
6. To make the glaze, in a saucepan over medium heat melt butter and brown sugar, cream and salt. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then decrease heat to medium and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Stir in the vanilla and spoon the glaze over the cake, encouraging some to drizzle down the sides.