Words and recipe by Ren Behan
Food Revolution Day on Friday 16th May is once again poised to highlight cooking real food from scratch, with a particular emphasis on involving kids. It’s all about getting youngsters to learn about food – to enjoy cooking it, eating it, preparing it and even growing it.
With so many of my own childhood memories associated with real, homemade Polish food, I almost take it for granted that I had a mother who adored and celebrated food. As émigrés, recipes and dishes were often closely linked with nostalgia and memories from home. An appreciation of good food was gently woven into our everyday lives, without ever making a big deal about it. There was always a mixing bowl at the ready for us, and family meals were based on ingredients often home grown or bought from smaller independent retailers – including the fish man who sold fresh produce door-to-door weekly from his van. How times change!
Now, with a family of my own, I try whenever I can to pass on these memories and lessons, as I believe it’s really important for children to understand where their food comes from as they grow up.
The recipe I’m sharing today is a Polish plum cake known as a Placek z Sliwkami (or sometimes a fruit sponge Ciasto biszkoptowe z owocami). It is the very first cake I learned to make with my mother and is the cake my children most enjoy helping me with now. You can use almost any fruit, and while stone fruits work particularly well, sliced apples or a scattering of berries are just as delicious.
Children can assist with every stage of this recipe, and it’s a perfect one for them to learn some of the baking basics from – such as greasing trays, cracking and beating eggs, grating zest and sifting in flour. They can measure ingredients using scales, cups or even a small tumbler, and will love being given a big bowl of fruit to scatter into the batter!
Polish plum cake recipe
- 8-10 plums, stones removed
- One cup/200g caster sugar
- 4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
- One cup/240ml mild, light olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons plain, natural yoghurt
- 2 cups/250g self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 5/375 F. Grease and line a rectangular baking tray (20x30cm) with parchment paper.
Chop the fresh plums into halves or quarters and remove and discard the stones. Set to one side.
Put the beaten eggs and sugar into a bowl and whisk well, using an electric whisk if you have one until the mixture starts to thicken. Gradually pour in the oil and vanilla extract and keep whisking until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add in the vanilla, lemon zest and yoghurt. Mix together well.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold or mix with a metal spoon until all the flour is incorporated.
Pour the batter carefully into the tray and gently press the plums into the top.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
Leave to cool before serving in slices. You can serve this cake with more yoghurt and fruit on the side, or with a spoonful of fresh cream. It will keep will in a tin for up to four days.
Have a look at some of Jamie’s fruit recipes for more ideas!