When someone brings a plate of scrumptious little plum and almond cakes dusted with sugar to your office on a Monday morning, chances are you're going to like them. Especially when that person is Sasha Wilkins—she of the posh accent, Céline heels, and aspirational-meets-approachable blog LibertyLondonGirl. Once a fashion editor and now an in-demand authority on all things food, design, and style-related, Wilkins has just released the American edition of Friends, Food, Family: Essential Recipes, Tips, and Secrets for the Modern Hostess, from Liberty London Girl. If we could fall right into the pages of this cookbook and live happily ever after, we would.
First of all, you've got to love any cookbook that mixes recipes for Chicken and Root Veg Tagine or Jeweled Jellies in Jars with sidebars titled "French Brocantes" and "Fashion Museums I Love." Or chapters named "Food to Eat When You Come In from the Cold." Or digressions that include where to buy presents for your godchildren and the best bookstores for cooks in New York. Essentially, Wilkins is one of us. And that's reflected in the kind of offhandedly elegant comfort fare she cooks, as well as the way she entertains—setting a table that mixes her gran's heirloom china with flea-market finds and great basics from IKEA.
Our rampant Anglophilia aside, we wholeheartedly recommend this book as one you'll cook from frequently, not just display. And if it inspires you to dust off the good silver, call the crew over for a Sunday roast, or even brew yourself an afternoon cuppa at your computer, all the better. Now excuse us while we go rustle up a little something in the kitchen.
PLUM AND ALMOND LITTLE CAKES
These delectable little morsels arrived with Wilkins at the Lonny office one late-summer morning, and needless to say they didn't last long. Courtesy of Friends, Food, Family: Essential Recipes, Tips, and Secrets for the Modern Hostess, from LibertyLondon Girl (Quadrille Publishing, 2015), by Sasha Wilkins.
Cook's Note: These are made in a traditional muffin pan without paper muffin cases. This results in lovely miniature cakes, as opposed to cupcake shapes. I recommend a silicone muffin pan here, but if you don’t have one, use either butter, or cake release spray to thoroughly grease the holes of the pan.
11 Tbsp butter
½ cup superfine or granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp almond extract
¾ cup self-rising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup ground almonds
2 plums, pitted and chopped
12-hole muffin pan (silicone is best here)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream together the butter and both sugars using a wooden spoon or a mixer with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add eggs and almond extract, followed by the flour, baking powder, and ground almonds.
Then, using a metal spoon, fold in the chopped plums. Divide the mixture between the 12 holes of the muffin pan (try using a small ice cream scoop).
Sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the top of each cake. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until risen and golden.
Take the little cakes out of the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.