Ingredient: Damson Plums

Plus: A recipe for Lemon Hazelnut Semolina Cake with Oven-Roasted Damson Plums
Damson plums
Damson plums

© 145 / Nicholas Rigg / Ocean / Corbis

September is peak season for Damson plums—a fruit whose origins date back to the ancient capital of Damascus. Today you’ll find piles of this popular variety at local farmers’ markets. The raw fruit can be unpalatably tart, so Randy Sebastian, Boca’s new pastry chef, sprinkles the fruit with sugar before slowly cooking it down to develop a rich and spicy flavor—very 21st century. The sweet concoction pairs perfectly with this nutty, citrusy cake. Everything old really is new again.

Lemon Hazelnut Semolina Cake with Oven-Roasted Damson Plums

10 ripe Damson plums: halved, stoned, and roasted with a little sugar (20 minutes in a 320 degrees oven covered with foil)

Citrus Soak
2 tbsp water
2 lemons, juiced
4 tbsp sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme

Lemon-Hazelnut Semolina Cake
3 ½ oz. butter
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ Tbsp maple syrup
Zest of 1 lemon

1/8 tsp ground mace
Pinch of ground coriander
¾ C hazelnut flour
½ C semolina flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs


Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Combine all the ingredients for the soak, bring to a rapid boil, then remove from heat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap  and allow to steep for 30–45 minutes. Using a mixer, cream butter, sugar, lemon zest, and maple syrup on medium speed until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, followed by the eggs. Mix well, scraping down sides. Lightly butter an 8×8 baking pan and dust with sugar, then pour in batter.

Bake for approximately 18 minutes. Remove from oven. When slightly cool, cut cake and quickly dip in the soak. Place on rack to drain. Serve with plums.


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