Because my childhood neighbors had two big Italian plum trees, our family was gifted a large supply of plums sometime every August. No one really knew what to do with the plums, and so my father inevitably stewed them and ate them on top of ice cream. Not an appealing memory, those plums.
But I’ve grown up since then, thankfully, and have a new-found appreciation for Italian plums. In fact, I was quite surprised to find out just how delicious they can be, particularly when baked into a simple cake. This torte, which was adapted from a recipe by my friend (and La Varenne buddy) Mary
Schaaf. It originally ran in the December 2002 issue of Chocolatier Magazine, and I remember it well. The halved plums are arranged on top of the batter, and they gradually sink into the cake during baking and become jammy and intensely flavored. I used red Italian plums from the farmers’
market in my torte, but any red or black plum will work nicely, as long as they’re ripe and juicy. Serve this torte warm, if possible, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.