Plum Browned Butter Bliss

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I wasn’t sure what to call this. Technically it’s more cake than pie but calling it cake doesn’t do justice to a pieplateload of juicy fruit topped with a sweet crunchy topping; it’s not a pie either – it has no pastry but is baked in a pie plate and cut into wedges. The fruit-topping ratio is reminiscent of a crumble or a cobbler but easier and not as doughy. I would go as far as to call it completely foolproof.

Generally I don’t make dessert on a regular weeknight but I had bought red and yellow plums on the weekend with something specific in mind – cobbler? Pie? Upside down cake? It was something but today I had no idea what it was and flipping through the rained-on-and-dried-out magazines on my front step gave no clues. Also I happened to have whipping cream in the fridge which almost never happens. So I couldn’t really not make something – it would be a crime against plums.

I picked up one of my favourite cookbooks Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax and flipped through to a recipe I was drawn to years ago probably because the intro begins with: “Stick a bookmark right here and leave it in.” It’s called Ligita’s Quick Apple Cake but it doesn’t need apples. Richard describes it as a “ custardy batter quickly poured over apples and baked to a crusty gold .” I wouldn’t describe it as custardy but would zero in on the browned butter – a simple step that intensifies the nutty buttery flavour a thousandfold. (I cut the butter by a third to 1/2 cup and I would have licked out the butter-melting pot if I wasn’t afraid of burning off my tastebuds.)

This is one of those great go-to recipes that you could use with apples pears plums peaches berries apricots cherries… really anything that needs to be turned into something any time of year. But it really is the perfect delivery vehicle for plums – I love the combination of sweet crunch on top and juicy sourness underneath – and simple enough to stir together and bake while you’re clearing the dishes and digesting dinner. If you can swing it serve it warm with vanilla or burnt sugar ice cream.

Browned Butter Bliss

(by way of Ligita’s Quick Apple Cake in Classic Home Desserts)

8-12 plums thickly sliced or apricots or 3 peaches or whatever fruit you like

3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp. sugar (or to taste according to the sweetness of the fruit)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)

1/2 cup butter

2 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a pie plate. Toss your fruit in the pie plate with about 2 Tbsp. sugar and the cinnamon; spread into the plate. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and keep cooking it swirling the pan occasionally for about 5 minutes or until it turns golden. Pour into a bowl.

Stir the 3/4 cup of sugar into the butter then add the eggs then the flour. Pour over the fruit and sprinkle with the last tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and crusty and the juices ooze from around the edges. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream whipped cream or thick vanilla yogurt. Serves 8.