For two years running, my father-in-law has flown down from Durban to ride the Argus with the Salad Dodger. Last year was his first race. He is 78.
We like to joke about his remarkable health considering his somewhat lethal diet. Yes, he has five avo trees in his beautiful Kloof garden that have kept him supplied with healthy fats for at least three decades, but he also starts every day with a grapefruit buried in sugar, two eggs fried in an inch of oil and white bread toast with jam. He loves cake, malva pudding, chocolate marshmallow eggs and ice cream and he puts sugar on everything. Even the ice cream.
Naturally, I couldn’t let his visit go by without making something sweet. I considered a tarte tatin, but I really wanted to try the new Woolies Flavourburst plums Abi had been waxing evangelical about a few weeks back, and I had a bad experience with a plum tarte tatin a few years ago. I still haven’t recovered, so I decided to try Hannah’s upside-down sticky plum cake instead.
I should mention that I am not one for baking. Much. I prefer to play it fast and loose with recipes so I struggle with the precision required. I did follow Hannah’s recipe here, aside from two ingredients. Firstly, I used the large Flavourburst plums with their incredibly deep scarlet flesh, instead of the small Honey Punch variety specified in Hannah’s recipe. I did use fewer plums, but I wanted a cake that would be full of fruit, so I probably still used too many.
Secondly, I left out the thyme. This was strategic. Neither the Salad Dodger, nor my sister, will tolerate any kind of “savoury” leaf near their dessert. So, even though I loved the idea of this flavour combo – thyme, plums and white chocolate (yes!) – it wasn’t worth the inevitable fallout.
The white chocolate was the clincher in this recipe as I also happened to have a bag of Valhrona white chocolate feves knocking about. I’d been saving them to make roasted white chocolate.
Thanks to my over-plumming, the cake turned out to be more like a plum pudding – if you’re going to use big plums, halve the quantity – but the fruit was still tart and delicious and the aromatic hit of white chocolate made it practically exotic. I dusted my version with icing sugar rather than drizzling with honey and served it with Madagascan vanilla ice cream. I suspect Grandad would have liked to add some sugar, he claims to enjoy the “crunch”, but there’s always next year.