Photo by Judith Hausman
Let them eat this cake.
Prunes aren’t the sexiest fruit with which to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but as California has discovered, dried plums sound a little better; plus, they work well in a Chocolate Dried-Plum Loaf Cake. Actually, dried cherries soaked in sherry, chopped apricots soaked in Grand Marnier or raisins soaked in bourbon will work just fine, as well, if you can’t be convinced to use prunes. All those dried fruits pair well with chocolate, too. (By the way, you can soak the fruit in strongly-brewed tea to avoid the alcohol.)
My family loves chocolate but I prefer fruit desserts, so this simple cake is a romantic compromise. It has no goopy filling or sugary frosting but it takes well to ice cream, if you want to gild the lily. Match the fruit you use with flavors such as rum raisin, Cherry Garcia or orange or mango sorbet.
The cake will bake quicker in two smaller loaf pans, which will also give you one to eat and one to freeze or give away, but a standard loaf pan will just take a bit longer in the oven. Test the cake(s) with a tooth pick to be sure it’s done all the way through.
Yield: 1 standard loaf
- 1/2-to-3/4 cup dried prunes, chopped
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 one-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix prunes and rum, and set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
In a glass bowl, melt chocolate over hot water; cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the yogurt, until just blended. Mix in the prunes, rum and vanilla.
Bake in a greased and floured loaf pan for 50 to 60 minutes, cool briefly before removing the cake from the pan to cool further.
As a long-time freelance food writer, Judith Hausman has written about every aspect of food, but local producers and artisanal traditions remain closest to her heart. Eating close to home takes this seasonal eater through a journey of delights and dilemmas, one tiny deck garden, farmers’ market discovery and easy-as-pie recipe at a time. She writes from a still-bucolic but ever-more-suburban town in the New York City ‘burbs.