Baking with whole wheat flour requires some finesse since it’s all too easy to fall prey to heavy leaden texture. I can’t imagine anyone wanting a piece of cake that would weigh you down like a brick. However, the deep nutty taste of stone-milled whole wheat flour can give baked goods a lot of character. How do we harness this taste without sacrificing texture? Dan Lepard’s recent mini-series on traditionally milled flour offers a glimpse on the versatility of such flours and I bookmarked his Whole Wheat Plum Tart with Sherry Cream recipe the minute it was published. This recipe would be perfect for the stone-milled whole wheat flour I received from Kawartha Ecological Growers.
Lepard’s recipe creates a stiff dough that reminds me of cookie dough. Butter is creamed with muscovado sugar and lightened with egg and honey. Whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom are mixed in just until combined and this dough is coerced into the pan before baking. Italian plum halves stud the top of the dough which turn into jammy pockets of sweet and tart to complement the rustic cake. Despite using 100% whole wheat flour, the teacake is light and moist. A gentle touch with the mixing is important to prevent excessive gluten development which would toughen up the cake. And don’t underestimate that little bit of honey! It helps to keep baked goods moist.
I opted to bake this as individual tea cakes instead of a large tart. The proportion of fruit to cake is different but I think it works well. Each teacake contains two tablespoons of dough and I made one and a half times the recipe to yield 13 cakes. I added 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt and used 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamom to flavour the cake. I absolutely adore the combination of cardamom and plums!
As soon as the teacakes came out of the oven, I brushed the plums with a bit of warm pear jam. The glaze prevents the fruit from drying out which is quite important if you don’t plan to eat them right away. I wish I have plum jam on hand for a better matching of flavour but the mild taste and clear colour of pear jam is a good substitute. The skin of the plum turns from purple to crimson during baking and bleeds a little to the bright orangey flesh. This colour combination is so striking especially with the glistening glaze.
This recipe can be adapted to use different stoned fruit such as apricots or cherries. Even tiny berries such as blueberries or raspberries would work great. I would also be interested to add grounded nuts to the batter for an even more tender texture. But that’s for later. Right now, I have tea to brew and cake to eat!