There’s something about turning on the oven when the weather first turns cold. It’s like digging your favorite sweater out of the back of the closet and putting it on and remembering, for the first time in months, the sensation of coziness. This almond anise plum torte is delightfully cozy.
It’s simple and rustic and the sort of thing that requires only a few minutes to put together.
It’s a spin on that torte, the one that Marian Burros first published in The New York Times in 1983 and that became so popular that readers protested when they tried to stop printing it annually after 1989. And there’s a reason it’s been so popular, because it is so so good in that favorite fall sweater sort of way.
I love the original, but this particular version is worth giving a go. It’s inspired by the flavors of classic almond-anise biscotti. Plums play well with those flavors. And like the crunchy Italian cookies, this pairs beautifully with a glass of Vin Santo or a bitter digestif like Amaro Nonino (and, of course, with coffee or tea).
The crumb is dense and rustic. The almond flour gives it some nice, nutty heft. A sprinkling of sugar over the top adds a subtle sparkle and crunch to the top. The anise flavor is delicate but definitely there (and I know people claim to hate anise, and honestly, it’s their loss). And just the subtlest grating of orange zest makes the almond-anise-plum trio sing.
Almond Anise Plum Torte
This almond anise plum torte is inspired by Marian Burros famous plum torte. It’s a rustic dessert with a hefty crumb. The flavors here are inspired by classic Italian biscotti. You can use either ground star anise or anise seed for the anise flavor here (and of course haters can omit it altogether). This works best with small oblong plums that tend to be around in the early fall.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (from about 1/3 of an orange)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground star anise (or ground anise seed)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 small pitted purple plums, halved
- sugar for sprinkling over the top
Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (I do this by removing the bottom of the pan, placing a sheet of parchment paper over it, and closing the springform around it to anchor the paper in place.) And spray the pan with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Add the butter, sugar, and orange zest to the bowl of a stand mixer (you could also use a hand mixer) and cream together until fluffy. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, anise, salt, eggs, and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be thick.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and place the plums, skin side up, on top. Sprinkle with sugar (about a teaspoon to a tablespoon should do it). Bake until puffed and browned, about 1 hour. Let cool about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and release the springform sides. Let cool thoroughly before slicing and serving. Keeps at room temperature for several days.