Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Prunes or Just Plum Crazy?

Something just snapped in my head, I guess. Maybe it had something to do with that silky blue color that, when smudged, gives way to a midnight blue-black. Or the way they turn a deep ruby when cooked, looking lush and fleshy.

Italian prunes are my latest objet d'affection. And prunes they are, though some wimpy marketing types, because when people hear "prunes" they think "laxatives," are trying to relabel them plums, which they are not, or worse, sugar plums, which is insulting and just plain wrong. It's like what happened with hazelnuts. Which are, as every born and bred Oregonian knows, the humble filbert rebranded to sound more sophisticated. But I digress.

I've made prune tarts. And a crisp. But my favorite so far is a luscious fruit compote that has a light sweetness smoothed over with a layer of brandy, made even more perfect served with a slice of simple-to-make yellow cake alongside. Great for a company-type dessert, even better for breakfast the next morning!

Italian Prune Compote

3 lbs. Italian prunes
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. brandy

Slice prunes in half and remove pits. Place in medium saucepan with sugar and brandy and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer till tender.

Great Yellow Cake
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. dry white wine
2 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

Beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add oil, wine, flour, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Beat 1 min. Pour batter into prepared pans. Place on middle rack of oven and bake until cake has pulled away from side of pans and knife inserted in center comes out clean, 30 min.

Cool in pans 5 min. Turn onto wire racks and cool completely. Serve as is or top with prune compote. Can also be frosted or stacked and frosted.


Giovanna said...

Nice--and I'm always so happy to hear someone else shares in my love of prunes, as well as my resentment of the rebranding of prunes. And the sugar plum deal--puts a whole new spin on 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'!

As for filberts, even I, a transplant from California, grew up eating filberts (and hearing many bad jokes about our Christmas cookies, 'filbert balls'...

Kathleen Bauer said...

I was hoping you'd approve! Now excuse me, but I gotta go to the market and get some more!

Eugenia said...

Hey, K! Just saw your post, and thus, linked it to mine on Italian/Fellenberg prune plums. Vive la quetsche!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Nice post, Eugenia! I want to try some of your jams…they look awesome, and no doubt taste that way, too!