Kids’ birthdays remind
mom of prune cake
It is difficult to imagine a child asking for a birthday prune cake, but that's probably just prejudice talking.
Prunes get a bad rap. It's that name: "Prune" just sounds like squishy, wrinkled, old-lady food. Or, worse, a stool-softener. Prune-makers have even come up with the new name of "dried plum" to get past all that.
Shevon Sherod-Ramirez, "a local girl now living in Illinois," has no prune prejudices, however. "As my children's birthdays approach, I began thinking of my own birthdays of long ago," she writes. "My mom would always get me a prune cake ..."
The recipe turned up in "Seasons of Baking 2," a self-published cookbook from Henry Shun, a retired commercial baker.
Shun says the cake is reminiscent of those once served as wedding favors. He likes his cake plain, but if you prefer frosting, he suggests a basic buttercream.
If you can get past that fear of prunes, this is a moist and flavorful, not-too-sweet dessert. And if you can't get past it, Shun suggests trying the cake with other dried fruits, such as raisins, dates, figs or cranberries.
The two "Seasons of Baking" books are not professionally written, but the recipes are dependable and cover many island favorites not normally found in cookbooks. (The recipes are scaled for both large and small quantities, with ingredients listed by weight as well as in "cups and spoons," which leads to such odd measurements as 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons milk.)
Purchase either volume for $25 at Dave's Ice Cream at Sears Ala Moana or online from crackseedworld.com. Order by mail from Shun at 236 Lae St., Honolulu 96813, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Shun also offers the book for bid on eBay.
Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Line bottom of a 8- or 9-inch-square cake pan with parchment paper. Do not grease.
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
2 tablespoons bread flour (see note)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large or 4 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 ounces chopped prunes (3/4 cup loosely packed)
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons milk
Sift together flours, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Combine oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and prunes in a mixing bowl. Beat at low speed 3 minutes. Add dry ingredients and beat 4 minutes. Add milk and cinnamon, scrape sides of bowl and beat 1 more minute. Pour batter into pan. If desired, sprinkle a few more chopped prunes over top of cake.
Place pan on a cookie sheet (to keep bottom from darkening). Bake on center rack 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake is firm and leaves no indentation when touched. Cool, remove from pan and wrap in plastic wrap. Let "age" 1 day for best flavor.
Nutritional information unavailable.
Note: All-purpose flour may be used in place of bread flour.
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.