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Plum-Almond Cake


A homey cake is a treat any time of year. This simple rendition celebrates September, when farmers’ markets are overflowing with small, dark Italian plums. Halved and nestled in the batter, the plums turn ruby red and jammy as they bake.


Plum-Almond Cake

1/2 cup sunflower or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

1 egg

1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon

1 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar

1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

9 Italian plums, halved and pitted

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly oil an 8-inch springform pan. Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the oil, egg, half-and-half, lemon zest, lemon juice, the 1 cup sugar and the almond extract. Whisk to blend thoroughly. Add the oil-egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the plum halves, cut side up, on top of the batter. In a bowl, stir together the almonds, the 2 Tbs. sugar and the butter and mix well. Dot the almond topping over the cake.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the ring from the pan and place the cake on a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes one 8-inch cake; serves 8.

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Fig Tart with Mascarpone and Pistachios

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Your guests will never guess how easy it is to prepare this gorgeous tart, which makes a dramatic dessert during fresh figs’ fleeting season. Use plump figs that are tender but not too soft, and use them as soon as possible after purchasing them.


Fig Tart with Mascarpone and Pistachios

1 rolled-out round basic tart dough

1 lb. (500 g) mascarpone cheese

3 Tbs. honey

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

16 fresh figs, halved lengthwise

2 Tbs. coarsely chopped toasted pistachios


Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

Fold the dough round in half and carefully transfer to a 9-inch (23-cm) tart pan. Unfold and ease the round into the pan without stretching it, and pat it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough by gently running a rolling pin across the top of the pan.

Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake until the tart shell is light golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

In a bowl, stir together the mascarpone, honey and lemon juice until thoroughly combined. Spread the mascarpone mixture evenly in the cooled tart shell. Arrange the fig halves evenly on top and sprinkle with the pistachios. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

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Recipe Roundup: Fall Baking


As much as we love sweet berries and stone fruits, we’re looking forward to a new season of baking! Enjoy early autumn’s gems in these gorgeous treats.


Apple and Cranberry GaletteApple and Cranberry Galette
This beautiful open-faced pastry, with scarlet cranberries nestled among golden apple slices, is a gorgeous finale for a harvest (or holiday!) meal.
Apple & Butterscotch Cobbler with Pecan StreuselApple & Butterscotch Cobbler with Pecan Streusel
This cobbler courtesy of Chef Thomas Keller is baked right in the pot used to make the butterscotch sauce, which both minimizes cleanup and makes for a fun, casual presentation.
Pumpkin Cream Cookie SandwichesPumpkin Cream Cookie Sandwiches
For a fun twist on the traditional sandwich cookie, a cream cheese filling flavored with pecan pumpkin butter is tucked between chewy ginger-molasses cookies. They’re perfect for Halloween parties!
Spiced Pear Tarte TatinSpiced Pear Tarte Tatin
Traditional Tarte Tatin uses apples and a classic pastry crust, but this delicious variation substitutes pears and flaky puff pastry. Crystallized ginger packs a gentle heat and plays against the pears’ sweet, floral flavor.
Brown Sugar-Cranberry Oat MuffinsBrown Sugar-Cranberry Oat Muffins
Studded with tart cranberries and packed with wholesome oats, these delicious muffins bake up moist, with nicely rounded, golden-brown tops.
Autumn Fruit StrudelAutumn Fruit Strudel
Here, a mix of fresh and dried fruits is tucked into layers of flaky phyllo dough for an easy, lightened up dessert.
Spiced Cider DoughnutsSpiced Cider Doughnuts
You may wonder if making your own doughnuts is worth the effort. Just one bite of these sugar-glazed deep-fried treats will prove it is. The spicy flavor is sure to bring back memories of crisp autumn mornings and relaxing breakfasts in flannel pajamas.
Cranberry & Pear CrumbleCranberry & Pear Crumble
Warm, gooey, sweet-tart pears and cranberries covered with a spiced crumble topping — this is the ultimate no-fuss fall dessert. Don’t forget vanilla ice cream for serving.
Salted Caramel Apple PieSalted Caramel Apple Pie
A traditional autumn favorite — apple pie — gets a modern twist here with the addition of salted caramel. A lattice crust makes it pretty enough for a special occasion.
Brandied Apple Cake with Figs and WalnutsBrandied Apple Cake with Figs and Walnuts
Loaded with apple chunks, dried fruit and nuts, here is a not-overly-sweet cake that can be enjoyed for breakfast, afternoon tea or as a casual dessert when topped with whipped cream.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar-Pecan StreuselPumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar-Pecan Streusel
This coffee cake is lighter than you would expect, with the rich flavor of pumpkin and spices and a thick layer of crunchy brown sugar and pecan streusel. Serve it for an autumn brunch.
Cranberry Chess TartCranberry Chess Tart
With its simple custardy buttermilk filling, chess pie is a classic dessert of the American South. This updated version is baked in a square tart pan and includes sweet-tart cranberries and orange zest, giving it a festive twist for the fall and winter tables.
Deconstructed Apple Crisp with Buttermilk Ice CreamDeconstructed Apple Crisp with Buttermilk Ice Cream
Here, Liz Williams, Pastry Supervisor at Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm, gives the classic apple crisp a creative makeover: The topping is transformed into oatmeal cookies that are served atop the apple filling in individual bowls. A scoop of buttermilk ice cream adds the perfect finishing touch.
Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese SwirlPumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl
This spiced pumpkin bread has a delicious surprise hidden inside: a swirl of tangy-sweet cream cheese.
Pear-Custard TartPear-Custard Tart
This delicately flavored tart is filled with vanilla-poached pears and brandy-spiked custard, then topped with sugary toasted almonds. It makes an elegant finale for a fall gathering.