Consider the following correspondence, unearthed from an archive of never-been-printed-but-could-have-changed-the-culinary-world-as-we-know-it advice columns:
Lately we’ve been feeling quite misunderstood. Every time we try to make new friends, we’re met with crinkled noses and rejection. Is it us? Are we not sweet enough? Not pretty enough? People love our smaller cousins; they’re always invited to cookie parties and get asked to the movies. How can we convince people that we’re worth a chance, too?
Alone and misunderstood,
Poor little prunes, going about their lives feeling sad and rejected while those rascally raisins get to have all the fun. If only partygoers, bakers and folks like you and me would give them a chance, then maybe they’d feel like they finally had their day in the sun (aside from the days they already had that led to their current predicament, but that’s another story).
In all seriousness, prunes really are underused and underappreciated gems in the kitchen. They’re super sweet, super healthful, and they can add great texture and taste to a recipe. If you’re still on the fence about it, this prune coffee cake is a great first foray into the magical world of prune admiration. The final product actually tastes like an amped up spice cake, and because the prunes are soaked and pureed with a dose of super strong coffee, they add tons of depth and flavor without screaming, “We are prunes!” One review I read on the original recipe suggested feeding it to your family first, then telling them what’s inside. I’m definitely not a proponent of hiding good-for-you food from your kids and significant other to get them to eat it, but if you think a touch of trickery will promote trying something new, then have at it. Just promise to reveal the secret ingredient after they’ve told you how awesome it is. You’ll have a prune-loving household before you know it.
Prune Coffee Cake
Adapted from nannydeb, Food52.com
• 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ cup whole-wheat flour
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• ½ heaping teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 tablespoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ cup prunes, quartered
• 1/3 cup hot espresso or coffee
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup light brown sugar
• 1 egg, room temperature
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• ¼ cup maple syrup
• 2/3 cups milk
• powdered sugar for dusting over finished cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter and flour a 10-inch spring form pan.
Place the prunes in a small bowl, and cover them with the hot espresso or coffee; let them plump for about 5 minutes, then set them aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sift together flours, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder and salt. Then in a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg, vanilla and maple syrup, and mix until well blended.
Puree the prunes with the espresso or coffee in the food processor, and then add them to the cake batter. Mix well.
Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the cake batter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan at least 10 minutes.
Dust the finished cake with powdered sugar before serving.
What do you think? Are you feeling the prune love yet? Any favorite prune recipes you’d like to share? Or maybe there’s another food you love but feel is misunderstood by the masses. I’d love to hear about it!