This yeasted cake is studded with fragrant, spiced plums and rum-soaked raisins. It’s beautiful and warming all at once, and perfect with a cup of tea. You’ll need a good amount of time for soaking the raisins before you begin baking to make sure they plump up fully.
Place the raisins in a bowl, cover with the rum, then set aside to soak for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Make the cake. Put the flour, caster sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the warm milk, egg yolks and melted butter. With the motor running, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix on low speed until fully combined and smooth.
Drain the raisins, discarding the rum. Pat the raisins dry, then add them to the dough along with one third of the orange zest. Mix on a low speed until well combined. Divide the dough between the prepared tins, cover with a damp towel and set aside to prove for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
While the dough proves, prepare the plums. In a large frying pan, combine the sugar, vinegar, star anise, cinnamon sticks and orange peel with 100ml of water. Cook over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Add the plums to the syrup, placing them cut side down in the pan. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the plums are tender and the water has reduced to a glaze (about 8 minutes). Set aside to cool.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down in the tins. Sprinkle the ground almonds over each cake, then arrange the plums on top, skin side up (reserve any leftover syrup).
Combine the demerara sugar, remaining orange zest and the ground cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the plums. Cover the cake with a damp towel, then set it aside to rise for 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5. Bake the cakes for 40 minutes, until golden and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes in the tins, then turn out the cakes onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
While the cakes cool, make the buttercream. Melt 150g of the butter in a small pan over medium heat until it starts to foam. Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter turns a deep caramel colour and smells nutty (about 5 minutes). Pour the butter into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
Beat the remaining butter in a stand mixer fitter with the beater until pale and fluffy. Mix in the icing sugar in 3–4 batches, beating well between each addition, then add the milk, almond extract and spices. Mix on high for 2–3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Add the cooled brown butter and continue to mix until well combined, then spoon the batter into the prepared piping bag and set aside.
To assemble, put one of the cakes on a serving plate, plum side downwards. Pipe the buttercream in kisses all over the top, then sprinkle with most of the flaked almonds and any reserved syrup from the plums. Sandwich with the second cake, plum side upwards. Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the cake and finish with a dusting of icing sugar.