Things I love about farmers …
Farmers get excited to watch you taste their “goods” … Farmer Bruce watched quietly as we pulled his plums from the tree. A bite of the warm plums evoked an outburst of delight, and then it would happen. Farmer Bruce would blush under his beard and a boyish grin would brighten his stoic face. I smiled, he smiled I’m not sure who was happier.
Farmers have really cool stuff lying around their farm, leaning up against barns, and tossed about here and there. I often think that farmers and antique dealers are secretly in the closet ”hoarders” who ran out of room and needed more space to justify their collecting habits. I think someday you may find me on a farm or sitting at the flea market.
I found this piece of old barn wood and a couple of others on Windrose Farm in Cambria while on a farm tour. His wife Barbara begged me to take as much as I wanted. Her husband’s “collection” was getting out of hand. The plate ? I found it at the Goodwill for .99 cents, it’s part of my collection.
Farmers care about who they sell to. Melissa’s Produce tree farmers have a unique growing process that stands out from their counterparts who may be producing solely to the masses. The growers relationship with Melissa’s Produce allows them the freedom to plant and grow for a consumer who has come to expect nothing less than extraordinary flavor and freshness when they see the name Melissa’s Produce on the label. Melissa’s Produce has a face to face relationship with their farmers and chooses very carefully the produce they sell to you and I. They buy what they can and when it’s gone, it’s gone …
Farmers are generous. We ate fruit until we couldn’t eat any more, and then we had another… Cherry Yum (cherries + plums), Sugar Plums, and Honey Punch Plumcots (peach + apricot + plum). I think Farmer Bruce would have shared his fruit and stories with us all day. Kindly he realized we were melting in the summer sun and sent us on our way with overflowing goodie bags.
Lightly dusted with granulated sugar and a dollop of whipped cream, this dessert highlights Bruce’s Cherry Yums that just are cradled in the batter as they bake. Olive oil cake is an airy lighter version of pound cake. Lightened with egg whites, it reminds me of an angel food cake or a chiffon. The flavor of the olive oil is hardly noticeable, but the background fruitiness of the oil pairs sweetly with the baked stone fruit. Make sure to choose a good quality fruity olive oil. I used Cherry Plums from Melissa’s Produce, but you can also use plumcots which are available right now.
- ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons organic sugar, divided
- 5 large organic eggs, separated – room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup fruity good quality olive oil
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 pound small stone fruit, cut in half and pits removed
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon organic sugar
- ½ teaspoon almond extract or Amaretto
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust rack to the middle
- Line 2, 8-9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly wipe all the edges with olive oil.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low for 1 minute until bubbly, add in cream of tartar.
- Turn the mixer up to high and continue to beat egg whites for 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes, slowly rain in ¼ cup sugar, beat for an additional 1 minute or until whites form soft peaks.
- Transfer whites to a clean bowl and set aside.
- In the same mixing bowl add egg yolks and ½ cup sugar, mix the yolks sugar,and vanilla on high-speed for 2 minutes, they will begin to lighten in color.
- With the mixer running, slowly add in the olive oil and mix for an additional 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer down to the lowest speed, and rain in the flour and salt, scrape down the sides once and mix until just combined.
- With a spatula, gently fold in the flour in thirds until just combined.
- Pour evenly into prepared cake pans and arrange cut fruit over the top of each cake. Don’t worry if your fruit sinks a bit.
- Sprinkle each cake with 1 Tablespoon of sugar over the top.
- Place into the preheated oven and bake side by side for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and the cake begins to slightly pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from the oven and cool.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk cold cream on high until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Add in sugar and almond extract, continue to whisk on high until cream is thick and smooth. Be careful not to over mix the cream.
- Serve cake with a dollop of cold whipped cream.