Plum cake

Rosh Hashanah brings a freshness and delight as we enter into the new year and the season of autumn. Our menus have transitioned from light salads, summer corn and tomatoes and grilling everything possible to baked goods spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, heartier stews and lots of winter squash options.

In our family, we have meat lovers, vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians, to name a few, so in order to make everyone happy, I usually choose menus with a few choices of main course. This year, for our Rosh Hashanah dinner, I will serve a lovely chicken with roasted lemons, olives and capers along with maple-roasted salmon brulée.

There will be many side dishes that will satisfy the veggie lovers. And, there are always a wide variety of desserts, including the obligatory fruit platter for those who are non-dessertarians. 

My featured dessert is a transitional late-summer fresh plum cake, which offers something a little different from the traditional apple or honey cake.

Chicken with Roasted Lemons,

Green Olives and Capers

Total time: 30 minutes 


12 thin lemon slices (from 2 lemons)

Olive oil


4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves

All purpose flour

5 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup sliced pitted green Sicilian olives or other brine-cured green olives

2 tablespoons drained capers

1-1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Roasted lemons:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange lemon slices in single layer on prepared sheet. Brush lemon slices with olive oil; sprinkle lightly with salt. 

Roast until slightly dry and beginning to brown around edges, about 25 minutes. 

Lemons can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to container. Cover; chill.


Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour to coat both sides; shake off excess. 

Heat 5 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Stir in olives and capers. 

Add stock and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet. Boil until liquid is reduced to syrup consistency, turning chicken over after 3 minutes, about 5 minutes. 

Add butter, roasted lemon slices, and 2 tablespoons parsley; simmer until butter melts and chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

Maple-Roasted Salmon Brûlée

Makes 4 servings; active time: 15 minutes


1-1/4 pound wild salmon, skin removed, cut into 4 pieces

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place salmon pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper; roast for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, maple syrup, garlic and lemon juice. 

After the 10 minutes of cooking, remove the salmon from the oven and turn oven to broil. Brush salmon with mixture and sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly between the 4 pieces. 

Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes or until salmon is just cooked through. Watch very carefully so the top doesn’t burn. You just want it to crisp up a little.

Fresh Plum Cake 

(Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef)

Makes one 9-inch cake, 8-10 servings; total time: 1 hour 25 minutes


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)

About 3/4 pound plums or Apriums, pitted and quartered

2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar 

Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a 9-inch deep dish pie pan or spring-form pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and beat on low speed until smooth. (Note: The batter will be thick.)

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the plums on top, skin side up, in a circular pattern so that they mostly cover the batter. Sprinkle the Turbinado sugar over the plums.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 F and bake until the cake is lightly golden and a tester comes out clean, about one hour.* Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

*Chef’s Notes:

When baking at higher altitudes, increase the bake time. At 7,000 feet above sea level, I added 20 minutes extra.

Cake can be stored at room temperature for several days, loosely covered.

Freezer-friendly instructions: 

The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, cover it tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Apriums are a hybrid between apricots and plums. If you can find them, they are a delicious alternative to the plums. JN 

Francine Coles is a food blogger based in Phoenix. Find more of her food insights and recipes at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.