Last month on one of the many sweltering days I jumped on the overground to go to Rachel Khoo’s gorgeous Khoolect Studio to celebrate the launch of her new cookbook, The Little Swedish Kitchen*. She made butternut squash waffles and chocolate-raspeberry bullar and we all sat around in the garden having breakfast before being sent off with a copy of the book and a waffle iron (best goodie bag gift ever tbh).
When I later flicked through the book, making notes of which recipes I wanted to make, the plum tosca cake caught my eye. I’d eaten a mini one before (minus the fruit) at my friend Sarah’s bakery/coffee shop in Leeds (an excellent brunch spot if you’re ever in need!!). It’s a fluffy cake topped with a crispy, chewy, caramelised almond crust. Incredible. The addition of the plums in the book was a great idea as it adds a sharpness which also cuts through the sweet almond layer.
My parents have a damson tree in the garden which last year produced so many that we have a few bags of damsons in the freezer. Unfortunately because of the weird weather this year, it’s not producing any fresh fruit so I just used up some of the freezer supplies. The only annoying part is that damsons have pits in the centre which are annoying to remove unless you cook them down first. I followed my boyfriend’s advice of a method that surgeons use, ‘count them in and count them out’ (apparently the LEGIT method used to prevent them leaving sponges etc inside people during operations), to make sure I got all the damson pits out of the compote.
I slightly adapted the recipe, lowering the baking time as the use of cooked damsons requires less time than using fresh plums due to lower moisture. I also opted for an almond extract in the batter in place of vanilla. Rachel’s tips say that you can swap in other fresh fruit like apricots or cherries in too. I think it would be cool to experiment with different nuts/seeds in the topping (sesame seeds could be incred) or adding chopped chocolate to the fruity later! Endless possibilities, really. Happy baking!
Damson Cake with Caramelised Almond Topping (Tosca cake)
- 40 damsons
- 100 g unsalted butter , softened
- 150 g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 3 medium eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 250 g plain (all-purpose) flour
- a pinch salt
For the topping:
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 100 g (1 cup) flaked almonds
- 2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- Place all the damsons in a medium pot with 50ml (1/4 cup) of water over a medium heat. Once the water in the pot starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and leave for 20 minutes. Check on them occasionally to give it a stir and make sure it's not catching on the bottom.
- Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF)/ 160oC (320oF) fan. Grease and line a 21cm (9-inch) springform pan with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter, granulated sugar and almond extract. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the baking powder, flour and salt. Mix together until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake.
- Once cooked, leave to cool with the lid off. When cool enough to handle, pick out all the pits from the damson compote - count them out so you don't miss any!!!
- Spoon the cooked damsons onto the cake batter and spread out into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes - it'll be a bit undercooked in the centre still.
MAKE THE TOPPING:
- Melt the butter in a small pot over a medium heat. Once melted, take off the heat and stir in the rest of the topping ingredients.
FINISH THE CAKE:
- Spread the flaked almond topping over the partially baked cake. Turn the oven up to 200oC (400oF) /180oC (350oF) fan. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes until golden on top.
- The original recipe uses 9-10 plums, halved and de-stoned. The initial bake is for 30-35 minutes then, once topped, baked for a further 20-25 minutes until golden.