Let Them Eat: 30 Minute Skillet Plum Cake


As much as I try to sleep in on Saturday mornings, as soon as I hear the shrill chirping of birds outside, I bolt upright, wide awake like a too tightly wound Jack-in-the-box. Adrenaline and stress-fueled, I scrunch my eyes shut, but I feel them twitching, struggling to pop open again. A pointless exercise, and no doubt a surefire way to increase the visibility of my crow's feet. Defeated but annoyingly bouncy, I walk to the kitchen and put on the coffee.

Breakfast at home on a Saturday is usually a compilation of from-scratch-biscuits, eggs, and assorted toppings, served deconstructed or piled high into a messy sandwich. Belly filling as these meals are, I tend to sniff around for a little something sweet; I'm one of those people who can never figure out if she wants sweet or savory for breakfast, and usually winds up ordering a gargantuan "lumberjack" plate of eggs, hash, potatoes, and pancakes to make sure that all the bases are covered.

If there's a piece of cake from this column lurking in the kitchen, problem solved, but if there is none to be had, I am left with a void that a piece of fruit, a spoonful of maple syrup, or even a second biscuit spread with jam doesn't completely fill.

Enter this quick breakfast cake: it's uncomplicated, no electric mixer is necessary, and it comes together in under 30 minutes. I start with a cast iron skillet and brown some butter (if you don't have a skillet, you can use a 9-inch round cake pan and brown the butter in a stainless steel saucepan) before pouring in the batter.

Brown butter makes a frequent appearance in my recipes; I cannot resist the deep, nutty flavor it adds to everything. Here, that toasted background blends with dark brown sugar, fragrant almond extract, and orange zest—all flavors that complement ripe, jewel-toned summer plums.

Dry and wet ingredients are whisked together—note that this is exactly how you make pancakes—then scraped into the skillet, topped with plum slices, and baked for just under 30 minutes. Served warm, this no-fuss cake is a lovely way to ease into the weekend.