If I had to choose a favourite stone fruit I think it would be plums, particularly blood plums. I love the colour and the slightly tart skin and the sweet inner flesh. Plums roasted or stewed with some warm spices such as cinnamon, allspice or star anise and then bottled make a very welcome treat through the cooler months, when the fruit options are more limited. But you should also make the most of them while they are in season.
After quite a few goes with little success, this year our tarragon plants are thriving. I don’t know if its the weather, or we’ve done something different but whatever it is it’s working. As it needs using, tarragon has found its way into quite a few dishes, including this roast plum cake. And it works really well, adding a slightly fresh, aniseedy flavour. However if you don’t have access to any fresh tarragon don’t let that stop you from making this cake. You could use some thyme instead or just leave the herbs out all together. The cake won’t be any the worse for it.
I make this cake in a cast iron skillet, which if you’re serving it for dessert you can take the skillet straight to the table. It works equally well made in a round 23cm tin or even in a couple of bar loaf tins. Use what you have and just keep an eye on the cooking times as it will vary depending on the tin size.
Don’t limit yourself to plums, almost any baked or roasted fruit will work with the cake base. Try roasted rhubarb, or peaches or in the cooler months poached pears or baked apples.
Just a tip, don’t fiddle around trying to remove the stone from the plums before you roast them. Just roast the whole plums and after about 20 minutes in the oven the fruit will have collapsed and you will be able to easily remove the stone.