Thursday, September 30, 2021

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

In my culinary calendar, after Italian prune plum season, next up is pumpkin. I love pumpkin as much as the next gal, but (just like Halloween and Christmas), online and brick-and-mortar stores start advertising EVERYTHING pumpkin way too early, so by the time actual fall rolls around, I am sick of it. But that doesn’t deter me from baking at least one pumpkin-y goodie. Because, as you know, I am all about the baked goods!

This recipe is from & it’s a good one. To begin with, it is chock-full of the de rigueur fall spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice; next, they are soft and chewy (which I love); and finally, they have a luscious cream cheese frosting which, just literally, is the icing on the cake. They keep well in the fridge for about a week, if you have any left over.

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from 

Yields about 3 dozen cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

2-1/2 C AP flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 TB pumpkin pie spice (see below)

1/2 t salt

1/2 C (1 stick) butter, softened

1 C granulated sugar

1/2 C brown sugar

1-1/4 C canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 t vanilla extract

Frosting Ingredients*:

8 oz (1 brick) cream cheese, room temp

3 TB butter, room temp

1 t vanilla extract

1 C confectioners’ sugar (approximately)

Chopped walnuts (optional)

* The original recipe calls for low-fat cream cheese. Also, I reduced the amount of confectioners’ sugar to 1 cup, as I thought 2 cups was too much.

Pumpkin pie spice (

1/4 C ground cinnamon

2 TB ground ginger

4 t ground nutmeg

2 t ground allspice

2 t ground cloves

Whisk all spice ingredients together in a small bowl until combined. Transfer to a sealed spice jar, where it will keep for up to 2 years.


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt, until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 1 minute until light and fluffy. Add in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat on medium speed until just combined. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Drop on cookie sheet by heaping tablespoons, then use your fingers or a spoon to flatten slightly (these cookies tend to poof up slightly rather than flatten during baking, so shape them beforehand however you like. They won’t rise much).

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until baked through and bounce back slightly when you touch them. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool until they reach room temp. Then frost or drizzle with frosting. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts (optional) or a pinch of cinnamon or the pumpkin pie spice. Refrigerate in sealed container.


With electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together on medium-high speed until smooth. Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar until it is well combined and the frosting is smooth. If it is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of milk (or water) until it reaches your desired consistency. If it is too thin, add a bit more confectioners’ sugar.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

I Just Can't Quit You.

As much as I try, I can’t tear myself away. I meet others, but they’re just, just not the same. They don’t live up to the (probably) impossibly high standard set previously. That’s why I come back again and again…

I’m not talking about a human love interest here. The obsession I’m talking about is the OG Viennese Plum Cake I’ve been making for over 20 years. It was my late mother-in-law’s recipe that she made every September. After she passed away, I became the keeper/baker of this family treasure. A mantle I was happy to carry. No one is sure where the recipe came from; Freda clipped it from a newspaper oh, so many years ago.

Like I said, I’ve tried others, but they’re missing “something.” Don’t get me wrong, almost any baked good that combines Italian prune plums with cinnamon and sugar, in a yeasty or non-yeast-risen form, will be tasty. But none of them have that, shall we say, je ne sais quoi, that this cake has. I love the deep, dark caramelization of the plums. Maybe it’s that the arrival of these plum babies signal the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Or maybe it’s nostalgia for old-world traditions? Who knows? I could be analyzing it way too much. Maybe it’s just a damn good cake. I’m gonna go with that.

All I know is that I keep returning to it. And I am never disappointed. 

Bakers in Austria and Germany have been making plum cakes (plum kuchen) for years after the fall harvest, and with good reason. It combines the delicious sweetness of these dark little fall-season-only plums with a rich buttery cinnamon-sugary cake, which is the perfect accompaniment to afternoon coffee. I typically shower it with some confectioners’ sugar just before serving. But you could serve it after dinner and gild the lily with a dollop of whipped cream and it would certainly not be frowned upon. Maybe offer your guests a small glass of port with the cake? Who could turn that down? Not me.

While you still have time, get your hands on some sweet Italian prune plums and make this cake. The season is short, make the most of it. I think after your first encounter with this love, you won’t be able to quit it either.

Freda’s Viennese Plum Cake


For pan:

1 t butter, softened

1 t flour

For cake:

1/2 C butter, room temp

1/2 C granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 t salt

1 C AP flour

1 t baking powder

16 medium-sized Italian prune plums, washed, halved, and pitted

For topping:

1/2 C sugar

2 t cinnamon

1 T butter, cut in small pieces


Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter and flour 8” square pan, and set aside.

Using electric stand or hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.

In small bowl, blend together flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine flour mixture with creamed butter mixture, until well blended.

Spread dough evenly in prepared pan. Place plums, skin side down, on top of dough.

Mix together cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over plums, dot with the butter. Bake 45 minutes or until top is golden.

Let cake cool completely. Serve at room temp. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Fall Plum Pound Cake

It’s that time of year, friends, when the Italian prune plums arrive! They have a very short season so we must make the most of it.

In previous years, I have made one of my very favorite prune plum recipes, but this year I wanted something more like a pound or loaf cake. I found it in this recipe from a New Zealand food site, and it is terrific. 

The original recipe calls for regular black plums, but when prune plums are available, that’s my go-to. It also calls for a sugar icing, but I really don’t think it needs it. I did add a sprinkle of powdered sugar when I served it, just to gussy it up a bit. 


The coffee's on, come on over!

Plum Pound Cake

Adapted from Claire Aldous, Dish


10 Italian prune plums

3 TB brown sugar

1/4 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t ground Chinese 5 spice


1 C butter at room temp

1 C granulated sugar

1 t vanilla extract

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1-3/4 C AP flour

1/2 t sea salt

1 t baking powder


Grease a 9x5, 8C capacity, loaf pan and fully line with parchment paper. 

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Halve and stone the plums and set aside. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and 5 spice in a bowl and set aside.


Beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla until pale and light. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a TB of the flour if they start to curdle.

Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder and gently mix into the butter mixture. Don’t over beat or the cake will be tough.

Spread half of the batter in the base of the pan, then scatter half of the plums over the batter. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture over the top. Repeat with the remaining batter, plums, sugar.

Bake for about 1 hr and 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover the top loosely with foil if getting too brown. Cool completely before removing from the tin.

To serve: dust with confectioners’ sugar, or drizzle with a glaze made by combining 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar with enough lemon juice to make a smooth, thick but pourable icing.

Makes 1 loaf.