Sunday, September 17, 2017

Late Summer Plum and Olive Oil Cake with Geranium Syrup

Well, hello stranger -- almost two months no blogging -- nice to hear from you. Nice to be back.

Sometimes life takes over and pushes us into a high gear. Shinkansen so to speak. I could wait for the train to stop, or slow down a little, and write a story I wanted to write, a story about the travels back home, about chasing objects and places of my youth, about memories fading away. But the train is moving full speed and it looks like it'll be a long journey. So I am putting the story on hold. No words this time folks, just the recipe.

The old me would say, no, no, no, you cannot post this, it's half-baked, story-less, but the new me is learning to be less of a perfectionist and more forgiving. Because the summer is fading away and I need to preserve it -- pour it into words, weave it into sentences, no matter how short, no matter how imperfect. So that when the rains come, I can open up the bottle and let the sunshine out.

If I could stop time, just for a second, it would be in this moment in late September when the summer has not left yet and the fall is sneaking in, and they fall in love with each other and make love. And they hold each other, for one brief moment, trembling with the warmth of the disappearing sun.

And then they let go.

And I open the window of my fast moving train, and welcome the children of their lovemaking into my basket. And I close it tightly, and hold it dear. All the colors of the rainbow, all the flavors of the universe. Until next station. Until next summer.

Late Summer Plum and Olive Oil Cake with Geranium Syrup

for the cake

* 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 

* 1 tsp cinnamon
* a pinch of nutmeg
* 2 eggs
* 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
* 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
* 1 tbsp Grand Marnier 

* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp lemon or lime zest grated on microplane
* 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 

* 1 1/4 lbs ripe but firm Damson or Italian plums
* butter and flour for greasing the pan

for the syrup

* 1 cups water
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* packed 1/3 cup geranium leaves

First prepare the syrup. Place water and sugar in a deep saucepan, over medium-high heat. Simmer until sugar has completely dissolved. Continue simmering for another 5 minutes. Remove the syrup from heat, add the geranium leaves, cover, and let the leaves steep for about 30 minutes. Strain the syrup into a jar and let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour 11-inch round pie pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the olive oil, orange juice, Grand Marnier, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well, and add to the flour mix. Pour the batter into the pan, starting from the center of the pan. The batter will be fairly thick, and it will need a couple of minutes to spread by itself to the edges of the pan.

Wash the plums, halve them lengthwise and remove the pits. Layer the plum halves on top of the batter, cut side up, radiating from the center of the pan.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven until done. The cake should be golden, and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Depending on your oven, it should take 30 to 40 minutes (test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake; if the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done).

Serve warm, or at room temperature, with the geranium syrup on the side.

(Note: You can substitute plums with donut peaches. You can substitute geranium leaves with basil or lemon verbena. If you are not going to be serving the cake with the syrup, and like your cakes on the sweet side, use 1 cup of sugar in the recipe instead of 3/4 cup. And yes, you can use the syrup in lemonades and cocktails, by all means!)


  1. This is so very lovely. And I was excited to see a new post from you come across my inbox! You may not feel as though you wrote a story, but you wrote beautifully just the same. And in that sense, it's completely and wholly baked. I especially enjoyed your description of the collision of the seasons. Thank you for sharing :)

    1. And thank you for reading and letting me know :)

  2. Beautiful cake! This sounds so delicious!

  3. Thank you for this! I've just scrolled through your posts again, and find your photography so inspiring, and this little story was a delight!

    1. Thank you... Always makes me happy to hear back.

  4. this is soooooo good!!! I made it last year for the first time, as I had so many plums! plums are already available, so this summer we will enjoy this delicious cake from now until October!!!!

    1. Lucky you! If you have a lot of plums, have you tried roasting them in the oven with sugar and cinnamon? That's one of my all time favorite jams.


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