Friday, September 17, 2021


Late summer and early autumn are such a treasure trove of wonderful, fragrant fruit. For me, this period will always be marked by ripe figs, abundance of apples, heaps of quinces, and, of course, the true queens of all - plums.
I grew up in absolute awe of what a majestic fruit a plum is, and of all the ways it can be prepared, be it for the winter, or as an everyday treat. From simple pies to a variety of jams and conserves, to slivovitz and caramel brandy, the humble plum is the epitome of autumn and all its abundance.
The combination of plums and chocolate is not new in my kitchen; I find dark chocolate to be a marvellous addition to the humble damson jam. Especially with a drop of dark rum.
And this cake truly embodies all that I love when it comes to effortless, yet rewarding cakes. An absolute gem when it comes to mid-week baking. Incredibly straightforward to prepare, flavourful and fragrant, and on top of it all, it can be served within the hour.
I like serving it just as is, abundantly topped with poached damsons, but I do have to say, a scoop of good vegan vanilla bean ice cream does pair very nicely with it.

For the vegan chocolate fudge cake
180 grams plain flour
150 grams dark brown sugar
25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
small pinch of salt
250 millilitres warm water
50 millilitres oil
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
For the poached damson plum sauce
250 grams ripe damsons
120 grams granulated sugar
150 millilitres water
1 whole vanilla bean
1 drop vegan red food colouring, optional

To make the fudge chocolate cake, take a large bowl and sift in the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the sugar and mix very well. Line a small (15 cm) round baking pan with baking parchment, bottom and sides, and set it aside. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients; add in the warm water, oil, vanilla, rum, and the vinegar, and whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and immediately bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 18-20 minutes, or until done. Check it with a toothpick, making sure it stays fudgy, and not dry. Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool to room temperature.

To make the damson sauce, wash them thoroughly and cut them into quarters or halves, however you prefer. Take a large saucepan and pour in the cold water. Tip in the sugar and gently swirl the pan so it starts to melt slightly. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape out all of the seeds, and add them to the pan. Add in the vanilla bean itself, and place the pan over high heat.
Let it come to a boil, and as soon as it starts boiling, lower the heat to medium, and add in the damsons. If using, add the food colouring, too. Cook, gently swirling the pan and turning them over, for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how ripe they are, or until they are to your preference. Remove from the heat and let them cool down slightly. Once the sauce thickens, remove and discard the vanilla bean. Slice the cooled cake into individual servings, pour over the sticky sauce and the damsons, and serve immediately. Yields 10 servings.