When I’m driving home from work at the end of the night, I always find myself doing a mental inventory of my fridge. What little bits and pieces do I have on hand that can be thrown together? What can I come up with for dinner without buying any new ingredients?
This is what I was exhaustedly doing this past Saturday. It had been a late one so I wasn’t really thinking dinner or even a midnight snack. My head and belly were already on to Sunday brunch and, sadly, all I could picture in the refrigerator was a carton of questionably old yogurt, a couple of stale bread ends, and a few fuzzy strawberries. Ugh. Then panic really set in when I remembered I had scooped up the last of the coffee that morning. What good is a Sunday morning if you don’t get to linger over coffee with a decent breakfast?
So that’s why I found myself at the 24-hour grocer at 1:30 am, wandering bleary-eyed through the aisles, concocting my Sunday morning breakfast plan. I picked up a bag of plums, sour cream, pecans, and coffee, then went home and slept hard, dreaming of the plum coffee cake I’d make in the morning.
Thankfully, the coffee cake hit all the notes I was hoping it would and was totally worth subjecting myself to the other oddballs that do their grocery shopping in the middle of the night. The wedges of plum baked into the top are juicy and sing “summer’s not over yet” while the tender cinnamon-spiced cake warms you against the like-it-or-not fall briskness that has crept in to the mornings. And, of course, the pecan streusel. It’s the streusel that’ll having you reaching for your second (third?) piece.
The coffee cake goes together in the time it takes the oven to preheat.
Mix up your streusel topping in a small bowl–drizzle melted butter over flour, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon and stir together with a fork to form sweet crumbles of pure, buttery deliciousness. If you’re like me, you’ll want to set the bowl out of arm’s reach while you make the batter.
Now onto the cake batter. Whisk together dry ingredients. Cream butter with sugar, then beat in a couple of eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, then scrape the thick, rich batter into a square baking dish. Arrange wedges of plum over the top–I scrapped my usual “perfectly imperfect” aesthetic in favor of a herringbone pattern. Sprinkle the cake with the pecan streusel and get it in the oven to bake.
When the cake is done baking, let it cool for 15 minutes or so, so it’ll be easier to cut. This is always the hard part. It’s best to find a distraction–top off your coffee and start the crossword.
Cut the cake into wedges. Inhale. Cinnamon, butter, coffee–exactly what a Sunday morning should smell like.
For the Streusel:
- ¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
- ¼ c. Brown Sugar
- ¼ tsp. ground Cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp. Salt
- ½ c. chopped Pecans
- 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
For the Cake:
- 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- ½ tsp. Baking Soda
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. ground Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated Nutmeg
- 6 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened
- ¾ c. Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- ½ c. Sour Cream
- 3 large Plums, cut in 8ths, or about 8 Italian Plums, halved
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8"x8" baking pan with parchment paper and grease with butter or cooking spray.
- First, make the streusel topping. In a small bowl, combine ¼ c. flour, ¼ c. brown sugar, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, ⅛ tsp. salt, and pecans. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and stir with a fork until large crumbs form. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1½ c. flour, baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon, and nutmeg. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and continue to beat until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just incorporated.
- Spread the cake batter evenly in the prepared pan. Arrange the plum wedges on top, pretty purple skin side up. Sprinkle the pecan streusel over the cake. Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then carefully lift the cake from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes or so. Cut and serve warm.
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