Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Prune Harvest to Prune Cake with Recipe

Okay, prunes may not get your family excited but around here it is our yearly tradition to go and watch the farm harvest the prune orchard. If you haven't had the chance to see a prune harvest, then you have been missing out. My kids love watching the machines.

The orchard is old, but the fruit was large and plentiful this year. The best part about going out with the kids is getting to eat the juicy prunes while we watch.

I know what you are thinking... shouldn't I be saying, "plum" before they are dried? Actually, prunes are a distinct type of plum. They take very well to the drying process and may have antedated the fruit now commonly known as plums. My husband's family has been proudly growing and selling their prunes for years.

Picking requires two machines. They drive on either side of the tree and match up around the trunk. Then the machines shake the fruit off the tree and down into the receivers.

The ripe fruit, leave and branches fall down into a conveyor belt and it is then separated out before it goes into the bin on the back. Each half requires a driver and then several other workers to keep the fruit sorted and the full bins replenished with empty ones.

This year the harvest was done in about 4 hours.

We invited a new school friend my son had made and my son was able to share his love of the farm with him. It was cute to see how excited the kids were about the fruit, machinery and of course all the dirt and bugs out in the orchard.

While we watched I grabbed a few prunes. I wanted to make a fresh prune cake for my husband.

The recipe was a basic spiced coffee cake. I cooked down the prunes a little and removed the peels. A mixture of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon, it made the kitchen just sound heavenly.

Then I made a homemade caramel sauce to pour over the hot cake. It turned the sweet cake into a rich treat with a bread pudding like consistency. Oh, boy was it good...

The greedy little cake soaked all that caramel sauce up in no time. The end product doesn't taste like prunes, but it isn't overpowered by the caramel either. This cake is super moist, like I said kinda like a pudding, sweet and spicy from the fragrant spice blend.

Fresh Prune Cake

You Will Need:
1 1/2 c. fresh prunes, pitted and sliced
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 c. canola oil
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 c. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Place the sliced prunes in a small saucepan with up to 1/4 cup water. Just enough to keep them from burning in the bottom. Bring them up to a simmer then mash them and pull out any large pieces of skin.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9"x13" baking dish.

Cream together the sugar, eggs and oil. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and spices. Add to the wet ingredients and stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Then stir in the prunes, just till combined.

Fill the baking dish and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

With 10 minutes left to bake on the cake, prepare the caramel sauce. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a low boil. Constantly whisking, wait till the sugar caramelizes, but doesn't burn. The caramel should still be loose and pour-able.

When the cake is done, pour the caramel sauce over the warm cake and allow to cool completely. Serve warm or refrigerate until time to eat.

Now, isn't that a great way to eat a prune? Enjoy!
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