Saturday, August 14, 2010

When it rains...

Plum Skillet Cake Recipe

Whoever invented the saying, " when it rains, it pours," must have lived in our apartment in Texas. If you've been reading this blog, you know that the Lone Star state and I don't really get along too well, and my last week proved that things were not getting any better.

It all started last Thursday when I left the apartment for a mere 10 minutes to go the laundry room and throw a load of wash in the machine. I returned to find a small lake in the middle of my apartment floor. I thought we had just left the state of 10,000 lakes, but apparently, I was wrong. Though I couldn't locate the source of the leak, I cleaned up the mess and called maintenance. Little did I know this would be one of the 17 phone calls I'd make over the next six days, or that the bucket full of water that I wrung out of rags would be the first of many that we'd have to deal with.

Yes, that's right, our apartment flooded for six days before management finally called a plumber.

At a certain point during day two of the floods, I needed to bake a cake to bring to a friend's house for dinner. Since I couldn't exactly leave the apartment, lest a plumber finally show up only to be locked out of the place, I had to make do with what I had in the kitchen. I found some flour, sugar, butter and nectarines. Since we still don't have internet in our place (don't even ask) searching for a recipe on google was out.

Naturally I turned to Martha, and found a delicious looking recipe for a skillet cake in the August issue of Martha Stewart Living. I don't have a skillet but the recipe said I could use an 8-inch cake pan instead.

Since I was using a cake pan, I forgot that this cake is called a Skillet Cake for a reason, and as I prepped the ingredients, whipped the butter and sugar, and sliced super thin slices of nectarines, I never once pondered the name. I had never made or eaten a skillet cake, so I was blindly unaware that it is to be served in the skillet. It makes sense, I know, but Martha also forgot to mention it in her recipe ( tisk tisk). So when the beautiful plump cake had completely cooled I thought it appropriate to try to flip it out of its pan. After all, I certainly didn't want to bring a luscious cake to someone's house in a cake pan. That would be like dressing a Van Gough painting in an Ikea frame.

I slipped a plate over the cake and inverted it. Nothing happened. I tapped the bottom of the pan one, twice, three times. No luck. The cake wasn't budging. I should have stopped there. But no, I was determined, full of frustration from my floor and the phone calls which had been ignored, and the way that management was treating us. So I flipped the cake upside down on a plate and whacked it, causing the center to fall out in big crumbs.

Then I understood why it is called a Skillet Cake. You're not supposed to take it out, instead, you're supposed to serve it right in there. I was so mad at myself that I wanted to scream or cry or at least, call Gian Luca and have him tell me it was no big deal.

Then the floor started flooding again. And as tears rolled down my face, I realized there was nothing I could do so I took a piece of the cake in my hands and ate it. At least it tasted good.

Plum Skillet Cake
Photo and Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for skillet
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for skillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 ripe medium plums, thinly sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron); dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk.
  2. Pour batter into prepared skillet, and smooth top with an offset spatula. Fan plums on top, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly.


  1. Are you missing the land of lakes right about now? So sorry about the lake in your apt. That could be depressing! However,that plum cake would heal all wounds. Lovely, seasonal and delicious.

  2. Hang in there Antonietta! I am sorry that you are having such a tough time settling in.

    Thanks for the plum cake idea. It sounds delicious. Hugs from NJ, Jen

  3. First of all, let ME tell you it's no big deal - seriously could have happened to anyone. I've never even heard of a skillet cake, for example, and if I had been in your shoes, I would have done the exact same thing. Except I probably would have started sobbing at the end.

    Redeeming factors I see in this situation: cakes don't have to be pretty (or all in one piece) to taste good, when baking for friends it really is the thought that counts and, hello?, now you had a great story to tell on the blog. :)

  4. If it makes you feel any better, my apartment is infested with bedbugs, so I hear you on the frustration front. With all the exhausting work to do as we eradicate them, I pretty much just want to sit on the floor and cry, too.

    Virtual hugs. And seriously, if it's any consolation, your skillet cake looks amazingly comforting!

  5. How frustrating! At least you have this beautiful cake to make you feel better.