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Torte is deservedly called a classic
What makes a recipe a classic? I think the first consideration is ease of preparation. We have all made that special cake that took hours and received loud acclaim from family and friends alike, but in our hearts we knew we’d never make it again.
Second, the recipe must use ingredients that are easily available. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, “Beware of any enterprise that requires trips to five different stores to find the ingredients.”
Third, and most important, the recipe must produce a dish that is delicious. Online there are many recipes that say to start with a package of cake mix, add a package of pudding and then throw in canned pie filling and top with Kool Whip. Although the recipe might appear easy, the result is going to taste like the chemicals used to make the packaged products.
One recipe that has survived the test of time to become a classic first appeared in The New York Times in 1983. Marian Burros’ plum torte has become one of the most popular recipes in the history of the newspaper. The recipe was reprinted each fall for seven years. In 1989, when the paper advised readers to cut out and save the recipe as it was the last time it was going to be printed, an angry outcry ensued.
Like thousands of others, I am a devotee. Because the recipe is so simple, I often make two and put one in the freezer in case company drops in. Doubling or tripling the recipe is no problem.
The original recipe called for purple Italian plums, which are usually only available in the fall, but I have found that most any type of fruit works just as well. This year, I had an abundance of sour cherries from the trees in my yard, and they proved an excellent addition. In a pinch, even canned fruit can be used.
Since local blueberries are now in season, the adaptation below puts them to good use.
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted (measure after sifting)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup blueberries (approximately)
Sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling on top
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and eggs and mix well. The batter will be thick.
Spoon the batter into a greased 9-by-9-inch cake pan. Using a knife, spread it out evenly in the pan. Place blueberries on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake about 35 minutes or until the top is golden. Cool and serve warm with whipped cream if desired. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.