A few months ago, I received an email from a reader asking if I had come across a good plum cake recipe, a-la “Psych.” In the episode “Autopsy Turvy,” Shawn and Gus investigate a previous case that the coroner labeled an accidental death, and along the way, they stumble upon the world’s best plum cake at Phat Thai Jones.
Did I have this fabulous recipe? Nope, it hadn’t even occurred to me. But after a few quick searches, I understood what the reader was trying to explain to me; while we have no idea what the cake would be like, the recipes we were finding didn’t feel right.
They never actually show the cake on screen, and the only description they give is that it “tastes like you have picked a plum straight from a tree, and you stick it in a cake” and contains a teeny bit of alcohol. Not a lot to go on, but I was up for the challenge!
Since Phat Thai Jones is a soul food and thai fusion restaurant, I figured this cake should be a fusion of recipes, as well.
Plum cake was most likely introduced to Thai cuisine while India was under colonial rule from Britain. Indian cuisine adopted the cake, but typically added rum or brandy (there’s the teeny bit of alcohol). Plum cake, in itself, is somewhat Thai already. Who knew? So how to get some soul in there . . .
Kentucky butter cake.
Yes! A combination of a traditional southern dessert, the butter cake, and fresh plums would definitely be crave-worthy cake. What’s great about using a butter cake as the base is butter cakes are notoriously soft and gooey, so it has none of the heaviness of the fruit cake-like base that traditional plum cakes have.
This cake turned out so addicting. The splash of rum with the butter, the tartness from the unaltered plums–yum! The frosting (because I can’t not use frosting), is a mild, boiled milk frosting, which helps tone down the tartness of the plums. It is simple, sweet, delicious, gooey, everything you want from a cake. The cake needs to be refrigerated and brought to room temperature before serving again–or you can just eat it all the same day! No shame in that.
Small head’s up–below, I’ve included the recipe for two different fillings for the cake. One is very simple, just the milk frosting with added plums. The other is so decadent! It’s a butter rum filling. The only filling I have pictured is the plum filling because my other cake was snapped up too quickly. Both are delicious, both have their merits, so I’ve included both!
Before I get on to the cake, I just wanted to throw this out, there is a Phat Thai restaurant in Colorado! How cool is that? No plum cake on the menu, though.
One last thing, I swear, if you haven’t checked it out yet, here is my recipe for The Holy Grail of Cinnamon Pies inspired by “Dual Spires.” Give it a click!
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
5-6 plums, peeled, pitted and cubed
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans and coat with flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each to become fully incorporated. Beat in the rum and almond extracts.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the egg mixture in an alternating fashion, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until just combined using a rubber spatula. Then stir in the sour cream.
Fold in the cubed plums, making sure to spread them throughout the batter without shredding them. Dispense batter into prepared cake pans and bake for about 25-3o minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing them. Allow them to cool to room temperature, but do not chill, before frosting.
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar, or sugar finely grated in a food processor
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup of milk until smooth. Set over medium-high heat and cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in remaining milk and salt, and continue to whisk constantly for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and our in a shallow dish. Place the dish in the refrigerator to cool. When cooled, the mixture will be thick like custard.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat. Slowly add in the cooled flour mixture, a small spoonful at a time, and allow to fully incorporate. When all of the mixture has been added, crank the speed up to high and allow to beat for about 6 minutes. Test the frosting by rubbing a small pinch between your fingers; if it feels gritty from the sugar, continue to beat for an additional 6 minutes. Repeat the test until no grittiness remains.
2 cups boiled milk frosting
2 plums, peeled, pitted and shredded
Combine frosting with shredding plums using a rubber spatula to fold plums in. That’s it! Simple, tart and sweet!
Butter Rum Filling
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum (dealer’s choice)
3 large eggs
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened and cubed
In a double boiler over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, rum and eggs until the mixture is smooth. Return the double boiler to the heat and cook, stirring with a whisk constantly, until the mixture is very thick. This takes about 15 minutes, and the mixture will thin out before it thickens up. Whisk in the cream cheese.
Remove from the heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer the filling to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap right on the surface of the filling to prevent a skin from forming, and chill for at least 4 hours.
Gus: You thinking what I’m thinking?
Shawn: You want more plum cake?
Gus: I do. But no.