Hello all, it’s Carolyn today waxing about one of my favorite subjects: baking with mesquite meal. Today’s recipe was orginally written by cookbook author Marian Burros, and it was so popular that the New York Times food section published it every year between 1983 and 1989. Finally the food editor drew the line and told readers to cut the recipe out, laminate it and save it because that was the end of that recipe for the Times. Since then it has been republished by every major food blog from Epicurious to the Smitten Kitchen to The Splendid Table. And the Times. Again. People just love this recipe.
Add your secret ingredient
So why does it need to show up here? Because we can add a secret ingredient to make the original even better: mesquite meal. The sweet, fruity taste of mesquite goes well with late summer fruits, especially when enhanced by the warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger which were not part of the original recipe. If you happen to have some White Sonoran wheat flour and are saving it for something special, this is perfect. The popular heritage flour works best in pastries like this. Blog reports say that people have had good luck with gluten free baking mixes and that the recipe doubles easily.
The orginal recipe called for plums, but any late summer fruit works well. I used pluots because I needed something ripe and the plums and peaches at my store were still a little hard. Cut the fruit in fairly large chunks.
This cake is not overly sweet so it makes a good dish for a fancy brunch. Add a side of ice cream or whipped cream if you are serving it for dessert.
Since it is practically foolproof, feel free to experiment with fruit and spices. It’s up to you if you want to reveal the secret ingredient.
Late Summer Fruit Torte
½ cup (1 stick) butter
¾ cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
¼ cup mesquite meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup fruit
½ cup sugar with cinnamon & spices to sprinkle on top
Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan or springform pan. To ensure the cake comes out in one piece, go the extra step of cutting a round of parchment paper and grease and flour that as well.
Prepare the fruit. If using plums, pit and quarter. If using peaches, slice in large pieces. Set aside. Heat oven to 350 F.
In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Add flour, mesquite meal, baking powder and salt and beat until just combined. Mixture will be thick. Spread in prepared pan.
Press in fruit making a nice design. Sprinkle with sugar spice mixture. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Since oven temperatures vary, check after 45 minutes to see how your cake is coming along.
For more recipes, check out my cookbooks. The Prickly Pear Cookbook and Cooking the Wild Southwest. are available from Native Seeds/SEARCH or your favorite brick or on-line bookstore. Follow me at Carolyn Niethammer-author on Facebook for updates on my writing and cooking life.