Fall Rush!

Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
— Michael Pollan, Food Rules, An Eater's Manual
Plum Torte

Plum Torte

It's been a bit of a mad rush here at the Rusty Nail. It seems we barely got out of the smoke and it was time to prepare for winter.

But before I get too far into my story of harvest and canning and storing, I want to share a very easy dessert recipe. I originally heard this on the Montana Public Radio's Food Guys show. I hope I am not too late in sharing this, but perhaps the plums still out there are even sweeter with the colder weather. 

My Notes:

  • I reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup
  • You could substitute the sugar topping with turbinado sugar
  • We have made this without lining the pan with foil, just butter the pan directly.
  • When using frozen plums, the time to bake is more toward the one hour mark. 
  • Use a cookie sheet or tray underneath in case there are drips 

PLUM TORTE (original recipe as published)

This torte is best when very fresh.  But it is delicious a day or two later if kept covered in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature before serving.  To make several and freeze, bake the tortes one at time the following way: Line the baking pan (a 9-inch spring-form pan) with foil and butter the foil.  After baking and cooling, detach the sides of the pan and lift the foil-lined torte off the pan bottom.  Fold the edges of the foil carefully on top of the torte, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and another layer of foil, enclose in a heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag, date, and freeze.  The torte keeps well for up to 1 year.  To serve, thaw completely in its wrappings.  Unwrap the torte, set it on a baking sheet, and refresh in a preheated 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes.


*1 pound Italian prune plums (about 12 to 16)
*1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces, measured by dipping the dry measure into flour container,   filling to overflowing, and sweeping off the excess)
*1 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
*1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*1 cup sugar
*2 large eggs


*Fresh lemon juice, about 1 tablespoon
*2 tablespoons sugar
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and dry the plums.  Cut them into halves along their seams and remove their pits.  Butter a 9-inch spring-form pan.  Don’t use cooking spray because it’s wet, and the thick batter will not adhere to it.

For the torte, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium size bowl.

Beat the butter until smooth on medium speed with an electric mixer, about 1 minute. While beating, gradually add the sugar in a thin stream. Scrape the bowl and beater and add the vanilla. Beat 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed until fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated and batter is smooth and thick.

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan (an offset metal spatula is ideal for this job) and arrange the plums cut side down in tightly-packed concentric circles on top of the batter. Drizzle lemon juice over the plums. Combine the 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the plums.

Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake part should come out clean. The plums will have been engulfed by the batter during baking with a few purple patches dotting the surface. Cool the torte in its pan on a wire rack.

Run a small paring knife around the sides of the torte to release from the sides of the pan.  Remove the sides of the pan, cut the torte into wedges, and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Our first pressing

Our first pressing

In a rush to preserve everything that was ripe, last week was a bit of a can-o-rama. Included in the processing: chicken broth (more on making broth in future posts), pears from our tree, plums from a friend's yard and apple cider! We had never pressed cider before, and a generous neighbor lent us her equipment and another neighbor added apples to our own. It may be time to stop since I'm nearly out of jars! We also dehydrated apples, froze plums and stored squash. Bring on winter!

Cider in abundance

Cider in abundance

The goats also got some permanent winter quarters in the barn, but the kittens seem to have taken over the bed!

A place for an afternoon snooze

A place for an afternoon snooze

Desserts!Jennifer Knoetgen