Recipes that celebrate these unique early-fall plums


This week, I was invited to a friend’s place to break the fast for Yom Kippur. I was tasked with making a dessert, and after a lot of research on what is traditional for the holiday, I found that, well, there really wasn’t anything definitive for the holiday sweets-wise. However, I came across a simple Italian prune plum tart made by the prolific cookbook author Joan Nathan (she serves it for Rosh Hashanah but also suggests it’s great for Yom Kippur), and since I had a bag of them in my fridge from my last farmers market run, I decided to go for it.

Italian prune plums — the plums that, as the name suggests, turn into what we know as prunes when dehydrated — are one of the highlights of early fall. Everyone knows the famous Marian Burros plum torte that ran regularly in the New York Times, but there’s so much more to do with these small, blue-skinned fruits. Nathan’s tart, her spin on the German sweaty cough that bakes the plums over a crumbly, buttery crust, is one of them and one that I’ll be making again and again throughout the season and each Yom Kippur.

But while I have half a bag of the plums still to use up, here are some other fall-ish recipes using stone fruit that I think would be a great vessel for the cherished plums.

My Yeasted Breakfast Cake provides a wonderful bed for Italian prune plums, or any plums you have on hand. A simple buttery, yeasted dough rises around wedges of fruit then is baked until soft in the center and lightly crunchy around the outside.

In a similar vein, this Plum Upside-Down Cake envelops plums, cooked in butter and brown sugar, in a sweet, tender cake batter. When it’s inverted, the plums glisten like jewels all over the top.

Even simpler is this Plum Clafoutis where slivers of plum are macerated in sugar and brandy before baking in a pool of sweet crepe batter that puffs up and surrounds the fruit in a yogurt-y, vanilla-scented custard.

And if you have a glut of prune plums and just want to save them for later into the winter, my Master Stone Fruit Jam is the ticket. Simply cook the plums down with sugar and lemon juice until shiny and sweet then store them in glass jars in the fridge for months.

Yeasted Breakfast Cake

This recipe is meant to be a showcase for the best stone fruit of summer, but it can also be used as a blank canvas for whatever fruit you have lying around that’s about to go bad. Ripe plums, thin slices of apples or persimmons or ripe figs all work well here.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours 40 minutes, largely unattended.

(Ben Mims/Los Angeles Times)

Plum Upside Down Cake

The plums here yield a juicy glaze that soaks into cake when it’s inverted after cooking. The cake itself, a simple batter enriched with browned butter and vanilla bean, is a little softer and sweeter than a shortcake.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes.

Plum Upside Down Cake.

(Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times)

Plum Clafoutis

Although clafoutis are traditionally served warm, you can make this dessert hours ahead and warm it in a low oven just before serving. It will collapse slightly, but it will still look great. Using one type of plum is great, but this dessert also works well with a mix of different varieties.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Plum Clafouti.

(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

Master Stone Fruit Jam

This jam made with Italian prune plums is noticeably tart. If you want a sweeter jam, you can add more sugar, but try not to use less than stated here to ensure you properly preserve the fruit in enough sugar. Leave the skins on the fruit for added color, texture and flavor, but if you don’t like them, simply peel the fruit before pitting and chopping.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

A mixture of chopped stone fruit in a jar.

(Silvia Razgova/For The Times)

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