Vegan Plum Almond Cake
When I posted a photo of this plum almond cake on Instagram last week, the most common description referred to in the comments was FLUFFY. So, here is a fluffy plum almond cake. It is a light, tender cake with a fine crumb, not too sweet, and dotted with juicy, tart plums. It makes the perfect snack cake to savor with an afternoon cup of herbal tea.
I came up with this recipe after several recent trips to the farmers market left my kitchen overflowing with a half dozen pound of plums. I ate a few pounds of those plums, but after one too many trips to the ladies room (TMI?), I decided I needed to stop shoveling the plums down my throat and start baking with them. I was lucky enough to find some red-flesh plums for this cake so it looked extra pretty, but any plum variety will do, and Italian plums would be perfect.
That's because there is a traditional Italian cake called Torta di Prugne e Mandorle, which translates to plum almond cake. I had no idea such a dessert existed when I baked this, but I was delighted to later learn that my culinary instincts to combine plum and almond flavors was spot on. Also, I consulted the Flavor Bible, as I often do when I am developing new recipes, and it told me that plums and almonds go really well together, so there's that.
I use almonds in two forms here: first, almond flour or fine almond meal, which lends that fluffy, light texture; and second, almond extract. I really love the strong, cherry-like flavor that almond extract brings, but if you don't have it, you can substitute pure vanilla extract. I also add a bit of orange zest to the cake batter, as it adds a pop of freshness and a pleasant sweetness, while simultaneously enhancing the plum flavors.
I made this cake in a 7-inch springform pan, which helps give it that tall, fluffy look. If you use an 8-inch springform pan or 8-inch cake pan, you'll want to bake the cake for slightly less time, as the batter will be more spread out and require less time in the oven.
Plums are in season only through October, so be sure to bake this unknowingly Italian-inspired plum cake before the season ends. Bon appétit!
Vegan Plum Almond Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour or fine almond meal
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup canned full-fat coconut milk, stirred
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons sunflower oil or other neutral-flavored oil
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
4-6 plums, pitted and halved (my plums were miniature, so I used 8-10)
Optional garnishes: nondairy whipped topping or coconut whipped cream
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. or 180°C.
Line the bottom of a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can use an 8-inch springform pan or an 8-inch round cake pan, but you'll want to reduce the bake time by 5-10 minutes.
Place a large sieve over a medium bowl and sift the flour, almond flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together.
In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, lemon juice, oil, almond extract, vanilla extract, and orange zest until well combined.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.
Arrange the sliced plums evenly on top of the cake batter. Even spacing helps with even baking.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until the surface is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving with nondairy whipped topping or coconut whipped cream.