Any 'ol Reason: Almond Pluot Cake

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

-I love the fancy color of pluots. Somehow it makes it look like more work than it is.-

I’m a comfort eater in the worst form. I admit it. I enjoy finding solace in food when my mood turns afoul and when life seems to reinforce the concept that I am at times nothing more than the universe’s personal rectal thermometer due to the number of assholes as crappy situations I have to deal with. (Or when, like, half of you unsubscribe due to that sentence. It's okay. I understand.)

I’m also a lazy cook. It may be hard to fathom at times with the sometimes rather intricate recipes on here and the fact that I’m cobbling together an entire book of recipes – some of which, I admit, are rather fussy though so fulfilling and completely worth the investment of your time and sweat. On a regular basis I would rather piece together a simple meal than something over the top. Though, I like to think that I think a bit like Alice Waters or David Tanis in that a simple salad or rustically (read: haphazardly) prepared produce and meats are delightful in their own right and need little touching up in the kitchen outside the application of a bit of heat.

-Genius way to write a book, too.-

I also don’t eat much in the way of processed food. This isn’t so much for ethical reasons these days. I mean, it is. Processed food is bad for your health, pocket book, environment and all that spooky stuff you see on anti-Monsanto ads on Facebook. I’m down for that because I like to eat healthy and it's also affordable and that works out pretty well for me.

The main reason, however, is that processed food makes me feel terrible. Minutes after eating it I can feel my feet swell and my heartbeat stutter. I soon have to lie down, and that makes me feel lazy. Not lazy cook lazy, but let’s watch 7 hours of Nick at Night lazy.

All this culminates into a rather dysfunctional theology of cooking for me. I want to eat well when I’m feeling icky, but I don’t want to cook anything and prepackaged food isn’t an option. It’s a bit of a conundrum.

I suppose I should relent that “lazy” and “simple” are subjective terms. I find that for a simple meal it’s easy to crack together some pate brisee discs and keep them in the fridge for the week. Yes, it’s pie dough. A culinary hurdle and pain the ass for many. But at this point I can whip out a triple batch of the stuff in about 5 minutes. This means that for a quick meal I can just roll one out (1 minute), top it with some whatever I have lying about the house (1-5 minutes, depending on if I have to saute, chop, or grate anything), and then bake (30 minutes, but I'm sitting down and probably reading).

Yet, sometimes this is still a bit too much for me. The wok’s patina is pretty, but the bulk beneath it is too cumbersome to slug onto the stove top. I could turn on the oven but Sweet Baby Jesus it’s too hot to do that. Even pesto and pasta sounds like too much hassle, and let me tell you I can make pasta blindfolded at this point.

-And I'll only burn myself a lot.-

No, I’ll do salad. Probably a rather boring one, because I need to eat. I’ll break out my emergency pre-made dressing that I got at the market because - GAWD! - sometimes I really don’t even want to be bothered with oil and vinegar.

But comfort food a salad is not.

Cake is. Cake is freaking comfort food. It is the Snuggy of comfort food.

But most cakes require whipping. Mixing. Folding. Frosting.


So I’m glad I have this rather simple fall back cake. It’s six ingredients: flour, well-fridged butter, brown sugar, almond meal, a pinch of salt, fruit. No mechanical moving parts, though you will have to get your fingers a bit grungy unless you have a pastry cutter. You pinch it all together and dump the mess in a greased pan and call it a day. 30 to 45-ish minutes later you have cake. Really damn good cake. Cake that would make your mama and her friends oh so proud, but they’re not here so it’s a cake that you can be proud of as you eat the whole thing by yourself because you had a not so awesome day.

-And cake won't make snide judgments about your behavior.-

You revel in your comfort cake, raise your fork in the air, and think loudly because you’re too slothy and full of cake to actually yell, “Yes! Take this world! Tomorrow I will probably kick your ass unless you throw another shitstorm my way!” Then you go back and eat your cake. You won’t wallow in it. No worries. It’s too damn sweet, textured, and fruity to allow wallowing. It’s tart with pluots or perhaps some dandy little raspberries you forgot you bought at the corner stand and tossed in on a whim.

It’s a cake for the lazy and the currently encumbered. But, and I admit, it’s a fine specimen of cake for the days that you’re at the top of the hill, ruling your world, or just want a really bangin’ and simple cake for any ‘ol reason.

Almond Pluot Cake
Inspired by Nigel Slater's, Ripe
Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup ground almond meal
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup butter, diced
1 1/2 pounds pluots
vanilla sugar for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and butter the bottom and inside rim of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, almond meal, and kosher salt together. Add the butter and use your fingers to pinch it together with the dry ingredients (or use a pastry cutter, whatevs...). it should resemble dried bread crumbs and your fingers will be sore. I suggest licking them clean.

3. Scoop two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared pan and flatten it out. You don't have to firmly press it in. Just make an even layer with no cracks and you're good.

4. Cut the pluots into wedges or halves or slivers or a mix of all the above as it really don't matter - you just want to cram in all the pluots. Place them skin-side down in an even layer over the crumb mixture. Now haphazardly scoop the rest of the crumb mixture on top in an even layer. If the fruit pokes through then no worries. It's adorable. Really. Scatter some vanilla sugar over the top if you feel so inclined and have it in your pantry.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The juice will be bubbling. Yum. Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack, then eat.


  1. If anything can make a day better, it's a cake. A cake with crumbs, well, that's strong enough to brighten even the worst day. It does look like the kind of cake that would be at home with a scoop of ice cream, if the need arose...

    1. Agreed. Perhaps a simple caramel or fruit sauce, too. I served it with a glass of sangria and there were no complaints. ;)

  2. I am delurking (your blog has delighted me for a couple of years now) in order to thank you for introducing me to pluots - I had never even heard of them. Living in France has fabulous fringe benefits of a culinary nature but I'm pretty sure that my local market will not have pluots. I will substitute apricots and purple plums, both in season as I write and serve this to my ravening hordes.

    1. There's a fascinating book about their development and history:

      I suggest it if you want an engaging ag-history read.

  3. I'm the same way! I definitely eat when I'm stressed and I find that I am terrible about nibbling throughout the day.

    Love everything about this cake! Looks marvelous!

    1. Brian, I encourage you to make it. It's so frickin easy. It honestly take about 5 minutes to make this cake. It's my go-to now.

  4. This kind of cake is my favorite--easy, fast, great with coffee or tea, and full of fruit. I personally tend to use plums due to the treeful in our backyard. Perfect!

  5. You are a genius- I just made almond meal this week and I was looking to use it in a recipe that didn't involve Indian sweets. I didn't even have a clue that pluots existed- would I have to substitute Plums and apricots in equal quantities? As far as I know/have seen, I've never seen pluots here in the UK.
    Thank you so much for this!

    1. I think a mix of the two would be lovely. And yes, pluots haven't really made their way across the pond. When they do look for Flavor King and Dinosaur Egg varieties, which are the most flavorful and popular here in the states.

    2. Ooh, I'll keep an eye out for them! Thanks! :)

  6. Garrett: I am not really a dessert eater, but MY GAWD, all three cakes that I have made from your blog are A-MAZ-ING!

    Thanks, really. My family is quite pleased with the sudden desserts coming out of my kitchen.

    1. Glad they've all worked out so well for you! XD

  7. this is significantly more work than a pint of ben and jerry's....but it's healthier because it has fruit (right? although i can come up with excuses for the ice cream too). i've got an "unfortunate" overabundance of peaches coming out of the tree in my backyard, so i'll try this soon. thanks, G!

  8. Yum!! I really should have bought those plums that I saw in the grocery store so that I can make this!

  9. I'm a stress eater too. I don't like eating processed food as it is bad for our health. This pluot looks very delicious btw.


Hey, you're leaving a comment! That's pretty darn cool, so thanks. If you have any questions or have found an error on the site or with a recipe, please e-mail me and I will reply as soon as possible.

Vanilla Garlic All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger