One of the things you notice when you go to the Brisbane Farmers Markets is the sense of community you find everywhere you go.
You end up talking to stallholders about their products, having passionate conversations about everything from cannoli to cauliflower. And you often find yourself talking to your fellow customers in a way you definitely wouldn’t at a supermarket.
It was this community spirit that lead to last week’s purchase of…
I’d been looking at them a bit perplexed wondering what exactly they were, when a tall lady in around her mid 50’s said;
“They’re sugarplums. They’re lovely but you need to make sure you get the firm ones. Don’t want’em too soft!”
The corporate looking bloke next to me agreed;
“You want to get the ones that still have a bit of green on them. Then they’re just delicious”
With these experts guiding my selection I ended up with a bag full of these lovely little fruits and a head full of dreams about what I might do with them.
What are sugarplums?
Basically… they’re prunes.
Well they are the fruit prunes start life as before they are dried, put into bags and sold to Nannas all over the world (I’m sure other people eat prunes but I think I’m safe in saying the it’s the Nannas of this world that keep prune producers in business)
Like their name suggests they have a high sugar content which gives them a jammy, almost toffee-like sweetness. But they stop short of being completely cloying due a slight tartness – possibly why I was advised to get the ones that were still a little green.
I decided to make the most of the sugar in my sugarplums by baking them into a gooey, caramelised Sugarplum Upside-down Cake…
Sugarplum Upside-down Cake
Recipe adapted from www.taste.com.au. I added butter milk for added moisture to balance out the almond meal (which I know from experience can be drying in cakes).
175 g butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
About 20 sugarplums, halved, with stones removed
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Good quality custard to serve – I used Dairy Farmers Madagascan Vanilla and it was awesome.
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 6cm-deep, 22cm (base) round cake pan. Line base with baking paper.
2. Melt 50g of the butter and drizzle it evenly over base of the cake tin. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the melted butter and then arrange the plums skin side on top.
3. Cream the remaining 125g butter, caster sugar and vanilla on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until pale and creamy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Pour in the buttermilk and stir a few times to combine.
6. Then fold in the almond meal and flour. Spoon mixture over plums. Smooth surface.
7. Bake cake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand cake in pan for 10 minutes.
8. Turn out onto a serving plate then serve slices with custard
This is one of those cakes that works just as well as a dessert as it does for afternoon tea the next day!
Providing you have left overs of course…
You can find sugarplums at the Farm Boys stall Jan Powers Farmers Markets every Wednesday in the Brisbane CBD.
The stall doesn’t have a lot o signage but you’ll know it’s the right one if you can also see lots of crazy looking Asian vegetables there as well.
Have you ever tried sugarplums? When it comes to having a second slice of cake do you hold back or do you say “to hell with it” and have it anyway?
I must admit with this cake I was firmly in the second category 😉