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Little Lemon Plum Cake-Tarts

I adore plums, and find them very underused – they make the most fantastic jam, are delicious in salads, and their sweet, juicy tartness makes them perfect for baking – pies, muffins, tarts, crumbles, cobblers. Last year I made these wee plum tarts by nestling a small plum half directly into dense dough – I’m not sure if they’d count as tarts or a sort of heavy-on-the-fruit muffin, but they’re delicious. Besides plums, apricots would work well – or pluots; a cross between the two – a sort of plum-apricot hybrid. On my to do list: a version with fresh blackberries.

Little Lemon Plum Cakes

adapted from Baking with Julia

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
grated zest of a lemon
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
4-6 ripe plums

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, sugars and lemon zest until well combined; add the eggs and beat until well-blended and smooth. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda. Add half the flour to the butter mixture, stirring or beating on low speed just until combined. Stir in the buttermilk, then remaining flour.

Butter 12 muffin tins or spray them with nonstick spray – put a couple spoonfuls of batter into each, filling them no more than halfway full. If the plums are small, cut them in half vertically and remove the pits; otherwise slice off each cheek and then pull the pit out of the thick middle slice – essentially cut them vertically into three. Place a piece of plum cut-side-up onto each tin of batter, pressing it gently until it’s level with the batter. Sprinkle each plum with brown sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Run a thin knife around each cake to loosen. Makes 12.

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