A recipe so popular that reader demand insured it's publication in The New York Times just about every year between 1983 and 1995. Now this is something that I had to try. It just looks so incredibly simple on paper, could it be so good as to develop this cult-like following?
Well, as I've said over and over, simplicity is often the best insurance that a recipe will be memorable and perfect. And this was the essence of simplicity. It took no time, it took very few ingredients, it took barely any effort, and it seemed like the kind of thing you can't really mess up. But it looks somewhat impressive, and tastes much more complex than it is. The sweet-tart of the plums, the warmth of the cinnamon, the slight crispness of the cake top dusted in sugar. Recipe after the jump:
ITALIAN PLUM TORTE
From The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, by Marian Burros and Lois Levine.
3/4 cup PLUS 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
24 halves pitted Italian (aka prune or purple) plums
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more
Vanilla ice cream, optional
1. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In an electric mixer, cream the 3/4 cup sugar and butter. Add the flour, baking powder, eggs, and salt and beat to mix well. Place in a 9- or 10-inch ungreased springform pan. Cover the top with the plums, skin side down. Mix the cinnamon with the remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle over the top.
3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes (mine took a little over 50), until the center tests done with a toothpick. Remove and cool to room temperature or serve warm. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.