We were visiting my parents in Maine, and my mother capped off dinner one night by bringing a family favorite, Italian prune plum torte, to the table. For the handful of you who may not already be familiar with Marian Burros' iconic cake, it is arguably the most famous recipe ever to grace the pages of the New York Times. By Amanda's count, it was re-printed a dozen times over just as many years, sometimes with modifications -- including one that calls for a little less sugar than the original (we tend to prefer this version in my family). —Merrill Stubbs
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Marian Burros' Plum Torte
all-purpose flour, sifted
unsalted butter, at room temperature
to 12 Italian prune plums, pitted and halved lengthwise
Turbinado sugar and ground cinnamon for sprinkling
Heat the oven to 350° F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer or handheld beaters, cream the sugar and butter until very light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Add the dry ingredients and the eggs all at once, and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl once or twice.
Spread the batter into an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan. Arrange the plum halves, skin side up, on top of the batter in concentric circles. Sprinkle the batter and fruit lightly with turbinado sugar and cinnamon (I use about 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, but adjust these to your taste).
Bake the torte for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes, and then release the spring and let it finish cooling just on the base. Once it's cool, serve as soon as possible. Or, you can double-wrap the torte in foil, put it in a sealed plastic bag and freeze (for up to one year!). Note: to serve a torte that has been frozen, defrost it completely and then reheat it for 5 to 10 minutes in a 300-degree oven.