The walk to the farmer’s market

plum walnut cake

Plum and walnut cakes

I decided to walk to the farmer’s market with Lulu. It was going to take us a solid hour, which I was really looking forward to since it was one of these perfect sunny days of late summer, early fall. Lulu was chatty, making all sorts of ma ma ma da da sounds in my ear, and I was singing silly French songs that I was just making up as the words came out of my mouth.

” ♪ ♪ C’est ♪ ♪ jeudi ♪ et Luluuuuuu ♪ et mamannnnn ♪ ♪ vont au marché ♪ ♪ tra la la la”. Really silly! But it made her laugh so joyfully that I didn’t care — we formed a happy pair and that’s all that mattered on that sunny day.

I told her about the farmer’s market. And to start, about the beautiful eggs that we were going to buy.

Tu verras, ce sont les plus beaux oeufs du monde!” I sang to her. (You’ll see, they are the most beautiful eggs in the world). I really meant it! The first time I saw them, I fell in love with their color — soft shades of blue, beige and green — and the deep orange yolk they reveal once they are cracked open. The taste is incomparable!

“What kind of chickens lay these eggs?” I had felt curious to ask the young pretty woman selling them. “They’re called Araucanas, ” she had responded. Her smile stretching her mouth wide open revealed perfectly aligned white teeth that contrasted with her tanned face and long dark curly hair. She’s got the healthy look of someone who spends a lot of time outside, I had thought watching her pack my eggs carefully. I liked it. It had me dream again of the life in the countryside.

Then I told Lulu about the tasty crab apples, the corn and eggplants, the Heirloom tomatoes and French beans, yellow zucchini and carrots that we would buy too.

When we arrived on the square, the place was already buzzing with activity even if the market had just opened. I imagined how pretty it would be to look at the place from above, and see this patchwork of bright colors and people busy like ants. We strolled around to look at the vegetables and fruit, comparing them from one stand to the next.

We bought eggs and apples, different varieties of zucchini, raspberries and peaches, and I packed up a few beautiful purple eggplants, tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, French beans and carrots as well. The gorgeous produce inspired me so much that thoughts of menu ideas filled my head, making me seriously forget that I would have to carry everything home — and would just as donkeys do. It’s funny how, whenever I go to the market, I always end up coming back with much more than I plan to buy. Do you too?

C’est tout!” (that’s all!) I told Lulu. “Y’a plus de place!” (there’s no more room!)

But that’s when I saw them. Those lovely plums neatly arranged on a display in the middle of the market.

You see, those plums were just calling my name with their attractive subtle shades of pink and fushia. They were too cute to walk by and go unnoticed. So, of course, quite predictably, I stopped. I leaned towards Lulu and drawing my face close to hers, I whispered as if I were telling her an important secret: Regarde ces jolies prunes! (Look at those pretty plums!) Ce soir, je te préparerai de la compote de pommes et de prunes avec de la cannelle et de la vanille.” (Tonight, I’ll prepare stewed apples and plums with vanilla and cinnamon).

She smiled. But of course, it’s most likely the buzz of the market that she found funny.

But as promised, when we were back home, I stewed the plums for her. I really wanted Lulu to be the first one to taste our plums.

The fruit wasn’t too sweet, perhaps still in need of maturation under more sun, but at the speed by which Lulu ate it, she obviously didn’t seem to find it too tart. In fact, she kept opening her mouth like a bird, asking for more.

C’est si bon que cela?” (Is it that good?) I asked her, laughing while giving her the last spoonful left.

It was really nice to watch.

plum buckwheat cake

And then, it’s really what made the story of these plum cakes. And how making natural foods for Lulu inspired me to bake.

I felt like baking simple plum cakes that I would be able to eat when they are still warm from the oven. Still to this day, my mother keeps telling moi-at-forty-years-of-age that doing such a thing is silly and a bad idea and that it will hurt my stomach. But I don’t believe it. Or I don’t want to hear it. And I am sure that Lulu won’t want to hear that from me either when she is older.

Anyway, these cakes.

I used buckwheat flour (because it’s one of my new favorite flours to bake with) and quinoa flour, roasted ground walnuts, stewed plums, a couple of my favorite eggs and a few other things.

And do you know what? Eating the cake out of the oven was exactly the right thing to do.

Actually, I ate two, dreaming about what Lulu and I would find at the market the following week.

Plum and walnut cakes

(For 8 1/2 cup cakes)

You need:

  • 4 to 5 plums
  • 2 eggs
  • 6.5 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup blond cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 2/3 cup walnuts kernels
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Sliced blanched almonds, to top the cakes

Steps:

  • Slice the plums and remove the pits. Keep 1/4 of one plum on the side. Steam the rest of the plums with the vanilla and cinnamon until the fruit is tender and you’re able to remove the skins. Discard the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick, and remove the skins from the plums. Purée the flesh; keep aside.
  • Grind the walnuts finely. Using a non-stick frying pan, dry roast the walnuts until fragrant (watch carefully to avoid that they burn). Let cool.
  • Preheat the oven at 350 F. Butter 8 1/2 cup molds (or whatever molds you want to use) and coat them with flour. Remove the excess; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until the batter is light.
  • In another bowl, combine the quinoa and buckwheat flours with the walnuts. Add the baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
  • Add the butter to the egg batter and the stewed plums and combine. Then add the flours and mix until just homogeneous. Divide the batter between the molds and top with a few slices of plums and sliced almonds. Bake the cakes for about 25 to 30 minutes (or until the blade of a sharp knife inserted inside the middle comes out dry. Eat as you please. But I think the cakes are best eaten on the day.
Posted in Uncategorized | 70 Comments

70 comments

  1. A lovely Lulu story, Béa. I plan to make these plum cakes this week. J’adore les prunes! All of your gluten-free cakes are delicious. This weekend at my farmer’s market I bought an armful of corn and used some of it in your corn soup with fresh herbs and paprika recipe. There were smiles all around the dinner table. Merci!

  2. Beautiful post! I felt like I was right there with you and Lulu. This recipe has now been added to my “must, must do” list!

  3. my mother used to tell me eating cakes piping hot from the oven (and cookies and bread) would give me a tummy ache too! i wonder if i’ll tell my children that.
    thank you for taking us to the market with you. i go every week as well, and often buy too much to carry, but we always eat everything, so there’s no harm done.

  4. Coucou Bea! Reading your sweet story of you and Lulu going to the market, I see myself with Jeanne on every Sunday morning, enjoying last days of summer and all these super nice fruits and veggies, soooo nice. Hope all is well for you and little Lulu. Your pictures are always beautiful and your recipes are yummy! Let me know if you come to the west coast, we can go to the market together and have fun ;)

  5. Lovely story Béa, we have a lavender Araucana hen, but she is a mischievous little bantam always broody and we rarely find where she has hidden her beautiful blue/green eggs, hehe.
    What I would give for a fresh plum…patience patience …at least we now have the promising blossoms ;-)

  6. You and Lulu remind me of my mother and mysel when she’d take me to the market behind the house! I am lucky now to get fresh eggs from a friend nearby and we love love love how tasty they are, especially in cakes!
    Lovely little cakes! Yes, still warm from the oven is the way to go!

  7. Lovely post, I think I can smell the cakes! We have great varieties of plum too, my favorites are the “vanilla” plums, with their deep red color and their outstanding smell!…I will definately try this recipe with them (looking forward to go to the market on Saturday)!

  8. Ah, yes, the buying too much out of temptation is a familiar thing for me too. Even when I have figured out a cooking and eating plan for the week I still end up with more than foreseen. And then we get given more stuff by neighbours…

  9. beautiful and inspiring as usual. Juste une petite question: How do you manage to buy groceries, hold your daughter and take those painfully beautiful pictures? are you wonder woman? Can you tell me where to buy the superpowers?

    hugs

  10. waouh, une fois de plus les photos sont magnifiques…je retrouve vraiment tout ce que j’aime dans votre blog! felicitations!

  11. Awww this post reminded me of comptines we used to learn at school in France. Walking to the market is the perfect time to sing silly songs! :) Gorgeous eggs!

  12. Merci pour cette balade, elle me donne envie d’aller me promener sur ce marché,
    Bonne journée

  13. C’est si bien écrit et illustré que j’ai l’impression de vous avoir suivi en douce sur le marché. Moi aussi j’utilise beaucoup la farine de sarrasin (origines bretonnes oblige!)

  14. A charming Lulu story..I walked along~

    I am a nana to a Lulu.. not a mommy..but I have sung my heart out in silly songs to my small grandsons also.They are the only ones that don’t say “stop singing:)”

    Your photos are always so beautiful..I just made a plum tart also and I think they have become one of my favorite fruits..
    If at all possible your beautiful blog is even more so since Lulu:)

  15. So beautifully told and so deliciously photographed – thank you for brightening the day! I’ve only recently come across your blog and I am so inspired every time I stop by!

  16. Oh, I do the same thing – buy way to much at the Farmer’s Market. Those eggs look just like the kind I get from a lady down the road. They are wonderful, with real orange yolks. I love your plum cakes – such healthy ingredients! I’ll have to start baking with buckwheat flour.

  17. I love markets too.. especially when overseas when I get to see, touch & smell fruits, vegetables & plants etc that are hard to come by in my country. Good pics as usual Bea.. any photos of Lulu soon? Would love to see how she has grown!

  18. lulu is one lucky baby. fascinating story, as always. i can almost picture tagging alongside, with my own goodies to take home from the market.

  19. What a lovely post! I so enjoy reading about your little adventures with your daughter :) The cakes are lovely too!

  20. What a lovely story and delicious looking plum cakes. I have recently discovered buckwheat flour and love the nutty flavour it brings to things. Bet these tasted fab.

  21. I love love love looking at pictures of farmer’s markets. Of all the food pictures out there – nothing is more inspiring. I try to write about any farmer’s market I frequent especially this one.

  22. Lovely story and photos like everytime! Love to read your blog and can’t wait for your book to read!

  23. Beautiful! One of my favorite fall desserts is plum tart with a walnut cream under the plums…but I am itching to try this interpretation of that dessert…I love the idea of the buckwheat. And of eating them hot from the oven.

  24. beautiful images! i can’t wait for our farmers markets to be in full bloom (not until late winter early spring). i also love the richness that buckwheat adds to cakes. it all looks delicious!

  25. I love your market images Bea. So gorgeous and colorful! I too always end up with too much or certainly more then I had planned to when going to a farmer’s market. All those yummy things just begging to be taken!

  26. these cakes looks soooo tasty and your walk at the farmer’s market seems to be so funny! I always love walking around in markets, looking for fresh fruit and vegetables, thinking of the good dishes to cook with them! I love the pictures with the eggs! so delicate :)

  27. Love these!! I always enjoy little trips to the market! You always get to come back with the best stuff!

  28. Beautiful! Les photos sont vraiment magnifiques!
    Je vis a Boston (comme vous je crois) et je me demandais si ce fameux farmer’s market se trouvait dans les environs?
    Merci!

  29. They look absolutely fabulous! You’re lucky to have such a market near your place… The colours are so nice. And I totally agree… these eggs have a very amazing colour!
    Thanks for sharing this moment!

    Have a nice evening :-)

  30. I am always amazed by your photography and beautiful prose so this question seems a little off the mark, but where did you get that beautiful table? I know there must be a story there.

  31. Thank you everyone, once again, for your lovely notes.

    Esme, you can perhaps use a rectangular or round mold. The cooking time will need to be adjusted, though. I would say you might need to add 10 more minutes. Simply make sure to check regularly.

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  33. I do, Béa, I do love markets and I also buy much more than I plan to! Wonderful photos et jolies cakes !

  34. Many thanks everyone!

    Chloe, ce marché est celui de Belmont, le jeudi après-midi. Il y en a partout autour de Boston. Ca change juste de jour.

  35. The best way I’ve found to remember how to spell “fuchsia” is to remember that the flower and color are named after a Botanist named Leonhart Fuchs. It helps me to remember the “c”!

  36. Pingback: Plum and Walnut Cakes « Foodshots

  37. J’ai decouvert les Araucanas sur le livres de L, et G. Laurendon sur les poulets (avant je n’imaginait pas qui il y avait toutes ces poules :), et je n’aurait pas imaginé que les oeuf aussi peuvent si changer de saveur..

    Ballade et photos magnifiques :)

  38. I love your blog. I just nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger award. Beautiful pictures, wonderful recipes. I’m g-f and it’s just lovely to have a space where I can indulge my epicurean tastes!

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  42. It looked so delicious i had to try (even without the buckwheat) and i must say DELICIOUS! Even my 16month tried them (and she is a picky eater).But i would make into a bread next time, the batter overflowed in the cupcake molds.-(

  43. Anna,

    So pleased you tried them. What did you end up substituting for the buckwheat? Buckwheat is a heavier flour, so they don’t rise as much with it in the batter. Thanks for the feedback!

  44. Hello
    Tu as deja beaucoup de commentaires sur tes post mais je vais quand meme rajouter le mien. C’est juste pour te remercier pour ces belles photos et recits. C’est toujours tres reposant pour moi qui vit dans une grande ville grise (Londres) de lire tes posts a ma pause dejeuner.
    Je suis allee dans le Maine l’annee derniere et j’ai veritablement adore, a certains moments, ca me rappelait ma Touraine natale (pas details, je ne peux pas bien l’expliquer moi meme… ;)
    Looking foward to read some more!

  45. I just made these with what I had on hand and they were wonderful, I must find those other flours so I can make them exactly as written

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