Plum Cake from The Primrose Bakery Cookbook

Another Sunday, another dessert to think about for a family lunch.  This time I had a joint of beef topside to roast with some Yorkshire Puddings, lots of veg and gravy.  My vegetarian daughter ate a Vegetable Kiev with the potatoes and vegetables, which she really enjoyed.  This weekend we have had my mum staying with us.  She lives in Nottingham so we tend to see her on average once a month depending on what she is up to.  This weekend I wanted to bake a crumble for pudding as it is now feeling very autumnal and I wanted a comfort pudding that everyone would eat.  I had a punnet of plums to use up and thought about the individual plum crumbles that are in the Great British Bake Off Showstoppers recipe book. However, although the recipe sounded nice, it involved cooking the plums in port, something I couldn’t do as I didn’t have any port!  I suppose I could have substituted something else but I couldn’t think what to do.
I remembered looking through my copy of the Primrose Bakery cookbook the other week and spotting a rather yummy looking plum cake on one of the pages. I must admit I don’t really like eating plums unless they’re mixed in a cake or a crumble, so I thought it would be a good way of using them up. No one else in my family had tried to eat them either.  I scanned the ingredient list and thought I had everything in so why not give the cake a go?
I was intrigued to know what the cake would taste like as in the recipe introduction it mentions that the cake is very popular in the Primrose Bakery cafes and always sells out.  It also was from an original recipe by the Australian chef Bill Grainger, a chef who I’ve heard of but don’t know much about his cooking!
The beef was roasting in my slow oven, the veg was prepped so all I had to do was to get started on the plum cake. As soon as I got the plums out to stone and quarter my hubby appeared back from his usual Sunday morning trip to Morrisons and expected me not only to put the shopping away, but to make him a cup of tea as well!  Luckily my mum put the shopping away for me but I thought he could wait for his cup of tea, in the end he came in the kitchen and made it himself!  What’s more, I got a cup of tea too, but I told him if he had wanted me to make it he would have to wait!  Since I am not an octopus, I can only do one job at a time!
Once the plums were stoned and quartered, I started on the cake mixture itself.  It was a simple vanilla sponge involving the creaming method.  Once the mixture was ready, I greased and lined a loose bottom cake tin.  The recipe called for a 25cm diameter cake tin, I had one but it was quite small.  I found out that the cake leaked out of the top because it simply wasn’t deep enough.  It was embarrassing and I should have thought it through.
I quickly found a baking tray to rest the cake on and it was popped back into the oven with a quick prayer that the air hadn’t got to it and it wasn’t going to suddenly sink on me.  The cake was meant to stay in the oven for about 1- 1/4 hours but even after that time it still looked runny.  I kept checking the recipe wondering if I’d got quantities wrong or put the oven on at the wrong temperature!  It was turning into one of those Great British Bake Off moments where some of the contestants were filmed kneeling down in front of their ovens checking their bakes!
Finally, minutes before the roast beef was ready for lunch the cake looked like it was ready and it appeared cooked with the good old skewer method.  I put the cake on the cooling rack still in it’s tin and hoped that it would be easy enough to turn out onto a plate for pudding.  It didn’t help that both my kids came into the kitchen and said that the plum cake looked gross and they weren’t eating any because they didn’t like plums.
All the more for us then, was the answer to that!
I hoped and prayed that the cake would turn out right and thankfully it came out more or less intact.  It was a bit messy so if a customer ever asked me to bake a cake like this I would only do it after lots more practice.  
Well, you should never judge a book by it’s cover and although my plum cake looked far messier than the one in the Primrose Bakery Cookbook, I can assure you it was one of the loveliest, moist cakes I had ever tasted.  The Primrose Bakery suggest serving it warm with vanilla ice cream, we had pouring double cream with ours and it was delicious. So much so that we all had seconds (I’m meant to be dieting but everyone else was, so if you can’t beat them, join them!) My kids didn’t even try it, they went without and what a shame because it was a gorgeous treat!

Plum Cake from The Primrose Bakery Cookbook- as you can see the cake wasn’t one of my best efforts and I think the plums were a bit mushy. It tasted fine, though I’m sure a judge like Paul Hollywood would have laughed his head off at it

Would I bake it again?  Oh yes, but I will use the proper sized cake tin next time!
Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

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