The recipe is cherished and foolproof and time-tested. It's so beloved and requested that, as Kristen Miglore pointed out in Genius Recipes—which of course included the dessert—when the New York Times published the recipe for the sixth year in a row, they gave it the headline, "Once More (Sigh), the Plum Torte."
I myself had baked so many of these cakes this summer that, while I was by no means torte-tired, my eyes began to wander. I started scouring the internet for something different to do with the ten to twelve prune plums I'm obligated to buy every time I spot them.
It was my infidelity that led me to the other
Boleyn girl Marian Burros plum dessert: plum crumble,
the glory of which has been professed by Luisa Weiss on The Wednesday Chef and Molly Wizenberg on Orangette, too.
The crumble may not be as ubiquitous as the cake, but I implore you (I implore you): Make this for summer dessert finale, while plums are still a common sight and before you mosey on to apples and pumpkins.
Burros' crumble is shallow and top-heavy: a jammy layer of tart plums blanketed by a lumpy crust that my boyfriend aptly compared to a giant snickerdoodle cookie, warm with cinnamon. It's as easy-going as the torte, too The plums are simply halved, pitted, and tossed with spices and a little flour and sugar. The dough is streusel-like (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and a beaten egg), just pinched apart and scattered over the fruit.
Its glorious cookie-cake texture comes from the final step: Before the pan goes into the oven, you'll pour melted butter all over the top. The butter binds clumps of dough together, so that they form a craggy crust that's got fluff and crisp, lightness and density. Gosh, if I had to choose between Burros' crumble—fruity and spicy, squishy and crispy—and her cake... I just might choose the crumble.
Let it be your summer's last dessert hoorah. With a pan on the table, a pint of vanilla ice cream, and six spoons standing ready (though, you could easily polish it off among four!), you won't feel like you missed out on a thing.
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 cup unbleached flour, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 10 to 12 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extra (optional)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, well beaten
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
What's the last summer dessert you'll make before you head into apple and squash territory? Tell us in the comments below!