dimply-plum-cake Recipes

dimply plum cake

All of a sudden, the summer is as awesome as any summer could possibly be–the days are no longer oppressively hot, swinging from a temperate high-seventies to mid-eighties and the humidity has dropped–and just like that, it is also almost over. Noooo!

sigh

I’m not handling this very well. I don’t want summer to be almost over. I don’t care that I love fall; I love even more not having to wear jackets and toe-covering shoes and socks. I hate socks most of all. Everyone knows that fall is abundantly short-lived and all of a sudden you’re catapulted into the longest, winter ever, and …

I’m not ready.

swoon

And yet, there’s something happening in our kitchen that subverts my insistence that summer must not end. I made a tiny braise (it was vegetables but still, a braise), I’ve started missing that butternut and chickpea salad we made almost weekly last winter and now this too: I put cinnamon in a coffee cake.

pouring cake batter

I understand that a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon in a cake does not the fall make (poet!) but it’s the whole picture: late-season plums, a sturdy brown sugar cake, a hint of orange and cinnamon and all together, you have a cake that is the very embodiment of the span between late summer and early fall.

not dimply yet
not dimply yet

In other words, it was perfect. It also comes together unbelievably quickly, as in Jocelyn texted us at 5 p.m. last weekend to come over for a barbecue, just as we were getting home from the beach, we put it together in no time flat, it baked while we showered and we were up on her roof for one of the best sunsets of the season before 8 p.m.

It was gone almost as quickly, which means you can’t say you weren’t warned about the power of the Dimply Plum.

can you see the dimples?

Dimply Plum Cake
Adapted, barely, from Baking: From My Home to Yours

This is a wonderful coffee cake–sturdy, comes together quickly, and absolutely perfect for this time of year. It would also work with several other kinds of fruit, including apricots, peaches, nectarines or even cherries. You can swap the orange zest for lemon, lime or even grapefruit and the spice too. (Dorie suggests apricots with orange and a bit of star anise, cherries with mint, peaches with lemon and some fresh basil, and so on, so have fun with it!)

Although I have seen this recipe on so many other blogs before, I realize that the version in my book is slightly different. Nevertheless, I still made a change, using cinnamon instead of the same amount of cardamom because, ugh, I just do not like cardamom and not even this cake could change my mind.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums (or even Italian prune plums, when they are in season), halved and pitted

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and put the pan on a baking sheet. (Alternately, you can use this spray to butter and flour, which is indeed my greatest baking Joy.)

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.

Working with a mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it’s soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a minute after each egg goes in. Still working on medium speed, beat in the oil, zest and vanilla; the batter will look smooth and creamy, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter–Dorie says she usually makes four rows of four plum halves each–jiggling the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes (Dorie says 40, mine was done in 30 so check early and often), or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes during which time the plums juices will seep back into the cake then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Once cool, I dusted mine with powdered sugar. (It soaks into the plums, but keeps the cake a speckly white.)

You can wrap the cake and keep it at room temperature for up to 2 days, during which time it will get softer and moister.

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163 comments on dimply plum cake

  1. That looks delicious and easy! I absolutely love fall, which seems like it never comes here in Houston. :( Summer goes on forever and then all of a sudden its winter. So the beginning of school is about as close as we get to knowing summer is over and its time to start cooking for fall!

  2. I need a make-ahead dish for two occasions this weekend and you send me this, just in the nick of time! You must be clairvoyant. Plums of all kinds are abundant in the market here, so it will be easy for me to whip these up. It looks like it will be a good, versatile recipe for year-round, too. I’m already thinking of other fruits to use when the seasons change. Thanks!

  3. I’m right there with you… I love Fall, but it’s way too short and it means the long blistery winter is right around the corner! But, looks like this cake can get us all through!

  4. I know EXACTLY what you mean about summer disappearing fast. Yesterday on my walk, I found (gasp) tree leaves that were turning already! And I agree, while I love fall… I love going barefoot or in my strappy sandals even more! Sigh…

    It just so happens I have a ton of plums sitting on my counter, and a hankering for cake. Guess what’s soooo getting made.

  5. You’ve made me yearn for fall when I should be dreading it. I’m moving from Texas to Chicago so I uh, might freeze to death. Keep the inspiringly fall-y recipes coming so I don’t get too depressed that summer is coming to an end!

  6. ~~I’m not handling this very well. I don’t want summer to be almost over. I don’t care that I love fall; I love even more not having to wear jackets and toe-covering shoes and socks. I hate socks most of all. Everyone knows that fall is abundantly short-lived and all of a sudden you’re catapulted into the longest, winter ever, and …

    I’m not ready.~~

    My sentiments EXACTLY!!!

    Then there is all the coats and hats and gloves and scarves, boots, snow being tracked in, and you looking like the Michelin Man waddling out the door, to say nothing of the fact that the Michelin Man can’t fit behind the steering wheel of the vehicle.

    Nope….I’m not ready either.

  7. I’ve made this cake before last year right when fall started too and it was so good! There is something about the actual cake batter that is just damn tasty. Buttery and sweet with a hint of spice. And the end result is just so moist and soft. It really is one of those cakes you can just make and bring with you at a drop of a hat. Thanks for reminding me about it. I think its time to bake this baby again!

  8. I just came from the grocery store where I bought exactly 8 plums, just because they were pretty and on sale. Now I know what I’m going to do with them. Looks fantastic!

  9. The plums on top are so gorgeous – it really does look like a perfect fall cake. I think I’ll save the recipe for Thanksgiving, it’s always nice to have a pretty cake to go with all the pies.

  10. I hate socks too!!

    I made your mom’s choco chip sour cream cake last weekend and totally loved it (although I think I should have baked it longer – the top did not really crust like yours did). Now my mom is asking if we could stick some carrots (!) or blueberries in the cake instead of choco chips (she finds them too sweet), but maybe I can convince her this is a better route to follow.

  11. Well, I don’t have any plums, but a neighbor gave us a bag of apples that started falling from their tree, so I’ll use those with this recipe. My GM used to make something similar, but I remember she called it a cobbler.

    At least this winter you are working from home mostly..so you’ll probably be padding around in socks anyway! Won’t this be an easier winter for you?

  12. To be totally honest, I think that’s what I’m worried about: hibernating! The winters in NY get so cold, and we often find ourselves creating excuses not to walk, say, five blocks here or there. Without a in-house job to forcibly drag me out, what will happen?!

    An upside of the freelancing so far: I just realized I have yet another TEN unblogged recipes in the queue. Dare I go daily again, at least until the end of the month?

  13. This is my favorite time of year. It’s just starting to cool off, so I can bake without all that uncomfortable stickiness. The days are washed in that impossibly dreamy golden sunshine. And all the stone fruits are ripening, meaning there’s an abundance of American fruit desserts. Thanks so much for this cake- have you tried it with other fruits, like nectarines or peaches?

  14. I am so depressed about the end of summer too. I was out in a tank top yesterday and actually had chills. Summer can’t be over – I don’t even have a tan yet! I guess a piece or two (or 3 or 4) of cake might help with the pain though. :)

  15. TEN unblogged recipes?!? Do it Deb. You know we’d love it!

    This plum cake looks incredible. I will make it when my mother-in-law is here in a couple of weeks. She loves plums!

  16. Here in Kansas City, much the same. Just when you have had enough of one season, the next creeps in. I know Fall is just around the corner, I saw a yellow leaf on the walnut tree out back. Also, the craving for baked anything, spices, and sweaters.
    I did the oven roasted/dried tomatoes. I had to pick up the pace of putting them in a container as I was eating them pretty fast. Pasta for dinner tonight! Gotta use the tomatoes. Thank you. Nella

  17. I’d make this cake with strawberries and maybe a layer of jam or brown sugar crumble in the middle. Sorry Deb- but maybe a new name can be suggested- late summer plum cake? I keep reading “pimply dumb” cake. yesh!

  18. this cake is so beautiful – it seems very much a sort of mid-century design. i think plums are seriously underrated. i am excited to make it with some damsons i bought the other day.

  19. I’m having similar thoughts about the passing of time. It’s somewhat depressing when I think about how fast the summer has gone. I might have to make this dimply plum thing. You always do such cool things with fruit.
    ~Cat

  20. Heheh re: Pimply Dumb cake. With the frequency that I mistype words, I am shocked I hadn’t come up with that first!

    Katy — I totally think it could work with blueberries. Also, did you see this in the Times last weekend? I haven’t tried it yet but it looks wonderful, along these same lines but totally designed to show off blueberries.

  21. I love the look of this cake, and I’m sure it is also delicious. I know what you mean about that cinnamon thing and the end of summer. I made a nectarine-blueberry crisp last week (which is actually a very summery dessert), but I heavily sprinkled the top with cinnamon! It’s creeping back into my life too.

  22. I wish I would have seen the showcase in the Times. Rats! I’ve been all about everything blueberries lately. It all started two weeks ago with a batch of blueberry muffins. Add warm butter…heaven!

  23. Well in Fl we are still firmly planted in Summer. Luckily we have had the tropical storm this week so things have cooled down from all the rain (that is also why we will be having stroganoff tonite for dinner). However this does look like a lovely way to use up my overzealous plum purchase ( I forgot my husband doesn’t eat fruit out of hand).

  24. Yes, go daily! And thanks for this post. This is exactly the type of cake I’d pass over if flipping through a cookbook. Now that I have seen your photos and read about it, I can’t wait to make it!

  25. @Deb: “To be totally honest, I think that’s what I’m worried about: hibernating! The winters in NY get so cold, and we often find ourselves creating excuses not to walk, say, five blocks here or there. Without a in-house job to forcibly drag me out, what will happen?!”

    This is a real concern, actually. I left a newspaper job in Atlanta and moved to Minneapolis to be with the Boy and freelance. Last winter it was zero F or less 31 DAYS IN A ROW. If he hadn’t insisted on going out to dinner occasionally, I would not have walked further than the distance between the bedroom and my office for a month. So be warned.

    Meanwhile: I bought prune plums yesterday. This cake is so happening. And the oven-dried tomatoes – which, preen, I made a week before you posted them – chop up, toss with olive oil and smidge of pale vinegar, toss with steamed green beans. Oh yeah.

  26. I’m in Texas and we are still feeling the heat. That is unless you work in my office building. It is absolutely freezing!! The cake looks fabulous! I have fresh and frozen blueberries that need a good home. Say hello to Pimpy Dump Cake! I love the ‘new’ name. It’s something that will have my family begging me to make.

  27. Don’t go daily…go every other day. I like to read the comments too and daily will have them either too few or I’ll have to skip around too much. And what if we have a question? Will you answer two days back?

  28. I made this last year with the Italian prune plums and by the end of baking they tasted more like prunes than plums so keep that in mind if you are not a prune person. The cake however was delicious.

  29. This looks gorgeous! And would probably be really great with apple slices and artistically arranged frozen raspberries, for those of us shivering in winter at the moment! :) (And I’m sorry to say, I’m selfishly thrilled that summer is ending in the northern hemisphere because it’s been a very long winter and bring on the spring, I say!)

    And I would definitely put in a vote for the daily recipes! It was awesome when you were doing that. Your blog helps enormously during the down periods at work!

  30. I thought I recognized that cake from the Dorie Greenspan book! It’s a real gem, that book. My favorite recipe so far from that collection is the Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie Cake. Dangerously good.

  31. So, is there a good instrument for zesting (besides the obvious, a zester)? Because I made the key lime melts last night, to much enjoyment, but the zesting was a problem. I’d like to make this too-but again, the zest issue.

  32. The Microplane zester is the best $9 you will spend in your whole life, um, if you like to cook with citrus. It’s amazing. No drag, no difficulty, and it only takes off the zest, no peel. (Also good for hard cheeses, garlic and fresh nutmeg.) I don’t know how I ever lived without it; I get depressed just thinking about it.

  33. It just so happens that I have TEN more days left on my stinky job before I’m free. Ten days straight of yummy recipes and photos just might get me through!

  34. I am also getting very depressed at the thought of fall being just around the corner…winter just seems soooo loooong and cold and it never ends. I thought it might just be the Californian in me that hated winter, but oh no, just about everyone on the east coast bitches and moans about winter from start to finish!

    Oh, and I love Dorie’s cookbook…that one is my favorite. I made a couple things (one being the banana cake) and people thought i was a baking genius!

  35. I’m with you – fall is already here as far north as I am, the birch trees are turning gold, the air is crisp and the sky unbelievably blue, the geese are flying south …

    and there was FROST on my car this morning!!!!

    I love the fall, it’s my favorite season too. But we had such a late spring this year and I’m trying to buy and move into a house before the snow falls.

    Yet never once do I consider moving out of the upper half of Alaska. I think I’m crazy.

    The cake looks awesome, btw, can’t wait to try it (it will be after I move, I’m on baking strike until I have running water again).

  36. I hear you about the end of summer. I’m just praying for enough sun to ripen my figs and tomatoes. This cake looks delightful and I look forward to trying it out.

  37. I made it already with some apricots I had that were on the edge of being too ripe. I didn’t add orange zest because I didn’t have it, and I subbed yogurt for canola oil just cause I like to do that. It’s wonderful. The apricot has a nice tart flavor. Perfect for breakfast, dessert, snack…thanks Deb.

  38. PLEASE post every day for a while. I love you and your blog. :-)

    I love the look of this cake! My mom only really likes desserts with fruit, sometimes maybe dark chocolate…….but mainly fruit. I will have to make this for her. Thanks!

  39. Made it last night – came out beautifully (and also came out of the plan beautifully, which is rare for fruit cakes).

    What are some good desserts to make without a mixer – we will be in the country and no mixer where we are staying (but would love to bake); we will have a food processor, though.

  40. This looks absolutely yummy – the sinking plums remind me of Marian Burros’ infamous and much beloved Plum Torte recipe from the NY Times – orig published in 1982 I think, and faithfully after that for about 7-8 years. It is awesome, easy, and adapts to lots of other fruit, like peaches in summer and apples or pears in winter. I always add almond extract to the batter. I can make this in my sleep, I’ve made it so many times! Freezes beautifully too.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/21/dining/216frex.html

  41. No love for the cardamom? When I make jasmine rice (or even regular) in the rice cooker I love to toss in a few bruised cardamom pods, a bay leaf, and a couple peppercorns. It makes the rice wonderfully aromatic.

  42. I have made this cake several times already this summer. I use orange oil and leave out the vanilla extract. Also, I freshly grind the cardamom for a real boost of flavor in addition to adding the cinamom-really nice. I have even gotten some plum haters to tell me that they loved this simple plum cake. I think I will try the almond extract as another reader suggested. YUM :)

  43. I’m from Dallas and I noticed that a number of other people are from Texas. I took your on-line poll and couldn’t decide if we belonged better in the South or Soutwest category. My Fine Gardening mag classifies us as the Lower Plains. I put us down as being in the Southwest. What did the rest of y’all Texans do?

  44. I love plum cake! I also make mine with halved plums. Nectarines are nice too. I do use butter, though, instead of oil because I try to stay away from processed vegetable oils, and I eat as much butter as I can.

    Hoping to try it with half almond flour this year…

    Debs

  45. Deb – I love your website, and have made many of your recipes over the past couple of years. Especially the Guiness Chocolate Cake, which is my most requested cake now. This plum cake looked too good to pass up, especially with stone fruit at it’s most delicious right now. So, with that, I have this baking as I write this, but I am also terribly confused. Unless I purchased the world’s largest plums, I just can’t figure out how you were able to fit 16 plum halves into an 8″x8″ dish. I could only fit 6! I ended up using a 9″x11″ pan, and still only fit 8 halves. I am sure it will be delicious, either way, but what is your Tetris secret?

  46. I know exactly what you mean about the fall creeping up on you. I have been thinking about crock pots and stews these past few days. It’s exasperating, though I do love the fall. I’m not ready for summer to end. And that sunset photo was just stunning. I’ve never seen the city look that good at sunset.

    I’ll put the plum cake on the to-do list because it looks fantastic. I just made the Blueberry Crumb bars you blogged about a while back. Thanks for that. They are dangerously delicious. I can’t stop eating them.

  47. I made the plum cake for my two occasions this weekend! I made 3 batches of the batter and divided them between two 13×9 pans. The first one, I used the plum halves and could only get 15 of them in a pan. Made for pretty large squares of cake, and many ladies at the luncheon cut them in half to share. Due to the toughness of the skins, that meant often one walked off with the whole plum. The other piece was reported to be moist and tasty, though. The second cake, I used quartered plums and that came out really pretty, with diamond-shaped puffs of cake coming up between the plums. I haven’t tasted the cake myself yet, since I don’t want to mess up the second one before everyone sees it. I didn’t bring any of the first one home, since it was ALL eaten! It wasn’t as quick or easy to make as you said, though, Deb! I can’t wait for the apricots to come back so I can try this with them.

  48. Deb, even with 4×4 rows, I still could only, and barely,fit 2 rows of 3 plums. We must grow some huge plums here in Maryland. Hee! And here is a huge coincidence for you, went to my grandmother’s today for a luncheon, and guess what was for dessert? Dimply Apricot Cake. I swear! It was the craziest thing! She had read about it in the NY Times and saved the recipe for the luncheon today.

  49. I am also making this as we speak and was only able to tightly fit 6 halves into my 8×8 pan. I think my plums must be huge or Deb’s tiny.

    Thanks for the recipe! It will be delicious!

  50. Here in the NC mountains, we are already feeling the fall already. It is gorgeous here. I just made this cake and it’s wonderful. I didnt have brown sugar, so i went ahead and used regular and it is still amazing! Im already planning another one with the rest of the plums i got from the farmers market. They were the perfect size. 16 fit perfectly.

  51. We’re going to be there next weekend! I cannot wait. Perhaps I shall revisit this cake…

    Ah, and in regards to plum size: Yes, ours were tiny! Now I understand the question… They were right from the greenmarket, where they run a bit smaller (and prettier, not that I am biased or anything). If yours are bigger, I suppose you could either use quarter-fruit wedges and go 4×4, or just go 3×3 and cut bigger slices. Or, you could arrange them in a totally scattered and artful way, not in rows, uh, if you’re not me, and really unhealthily obsessed with neat little grids.

  52. Thanks for the clarification, Deb, and I have to admit these were some pretty large, but delicious plums that I used. Either way, the cake was a hit, and still looked pretty, but I think I will take your advice about slicing them into quarters next time. And TOTALLY arranging them in a grid because there is no way I can be random with arranging. Oh, hell no. And you know, when my OCD radar goes off on pastry, everyone better clear the room.

  53. I have this in the oven right now and it smells DIVINE. It only took 4 1/2 plums for me to fill my 8×8 dish, but they were on the large size. I ended up using lemon zest instead of orange, since I needed fresh lemon juice for a leg of lamb I’m doing up tonight, but I think it will work great.

    Thanks for the recipe, Deb!

  54. Our cake is in the oven right now, and we can’t wait to taste it. And WOW! SO EASY to put together. my 2-year-old helped, and I could acutally let her do a lot. I have a feeling this will be a standard in our house for awhile. thanks Deb!

  55. Deb, If one does not have a mixer, how do you think this will turn out? Also, it is apparent that you left the skins on the plums, which I assume will soften and taste less bitter than when eaten raw?
    Regarding the weather situation, I often wonder why we all live in these cold climates if we dread it so? Every night now, I notice less light in the sky, which I find to be the worst of all… dark at 5 in the afternoon come winter…tragic!

  56. I know I’m late commenting but this cake is in the oven, I used the italian prune plums. . at least that’s what the farmers market guy says. . .but HOW do you get the pits out of the plums so neatly? Mine look ok not like yours though, I messed them up pretty good and then put pieces back in the skins to bake. ~sigh~

  57. Our pits didn’t come out either but I ended up just slicing them alongside the pits. We lost a bit of fruit–or had a bit of plum snack, depending on how you look at it–but it allowed us to have the smooth cuts.

  58. I made this tonight, and it looks-haven’t tried it yet-delicious, but am I supposed to invert the pan twice, so the plums are back on the top, or are they supposed to be on the bottom? I did the former, which seems right to me, based on your pictures, but did I miss something in the recipe? And, of course, inverting twice made me wind up with a slightly messier cake-though the plate I inverted it on to was also too small, contributing.

    Also, I did manage to get the pits out fairly easily, but do you also take off the bit of rough skin where they were, or do you leave them?

    By the way, I have my zester! Thanks!

  59. prklypr: Marian Burros’ Original Plum Torte. Oh my, does that take me back! I looked in my recipe book to check on the year but had cut that off alas in order to make the recipe fit the page. However, the Eating Well column I clipped mentioned that when one editor decided it would be the last year for reprinting the recipe, fans stormed the barricades. So in 1991 a solution was found: a nutritionally correct version was published along with the original. Not bad for low-fat food, was the consensus. That answer, of course, was the kiss of death, and the recipe found its way, said Marian, to the circular file. The Original Plum Torte version was again published, and that’s the one I have in my book today.

  60. I made two of these for a barbeque party over the weekend. VERY well received. Beautiful and delicious. I made them Friday, wrapped them good in plastic, and they were excellent Saturday. The leftovers Sunday were soggy, not that it stopped me from eating them! Based on my experience, I wouldn’t hold this cake for two days. My plums must have been bigger because I only managed three rows of three. Thanks for the great recipe!

    PS — SOME of us ate the cake ala mode. And it is lovely on its own with coffee for breakfast. All-around winner.

  61. this is actually baking in the oven, as i type!

    question though: my end batter didn’t turn up nearly as satin ribbon-y as in your photos above – mine turned out much more “whipped” and had a noticeably airier consistency. would you happen to know why? i didn’t time the whipping of the eggs, sugar, etc, maybe that would have done it? hopefully it doesn’t change the end result – i’ll be sure to update!

  62. Thanks for sharing this recipe! We made this cake last night and it turned out beautifully. We had to use a 9×13″ pan, but it still worked fine. Also, we don’t have an electric mixer of any sort where we are now and had no problem with using a wire whisk. The plums looked so nice next to the rich brown of the cake. We debated on whether or not to remove the peels, but we’re glad that we left them on. The color was very nice and the texture was great. Thanks again!

  63. I have plums and an orange ready to go to make this on Wednesday. I also took out the Dorie Greenspan book and can’t wait to tear into that. Your pictures are even more enticing than the one in the cookbook!

  64. This has become one of my go-to recipes! It’s especially great as an after school snack. Of course I’ve switched it up a bit; I leave half plain on top (to accomodate some of my picky eaters), and I’ve put blueberries on the other half…yum! I also use lemon juice concentrate rather than orange peel, and yes, I did put the cardamom back in. And I use half white flour and half whole wheat. And then, as if the lily needed to be gilded, I generally sprinkle the top with a cinnamon-brown sugar mixture.

  65. After making this cake this morning I would do a couple of things differently next time. I actually think the way you cut the pits out was a good idea because then the plum pieces weren’t so think. I think my plums were so big and I was so dead set on using all 8 that the cake ended up cooking somewhat unevenly. The areas in the center and around the plums could not seem to get done. I left it in for almost 45 minutes and it was still really doughy in places but getting too dark on the edges. Also I really think I had some lousy plums too, which didn’t help. The flavor is great though. Eh–second time in two days I’ve made something I wasn’t all that thrilled with. I hate bad cooking runs! Next up is the apple cake. It is sure to redeem me.

  66. I had a ton of extra-ripe plums delivered at my house this last week through my local organic produce delivery service so i did a search on this site and found this recipe. I’ve made it twice in the last week – so good! One thing I would suggest to anyone who lives at a high altitude should not bake it at that high a temp or as long. I live in Calgary, Alberta, and I found that 30 minutes was far too much time. Next time I do this I will try it a bit lower and shorter and report back.
    I think this recipe might work with any kind of super ripe fruit, can’t wait to experiment!

  67. hi. my brother made this cake and it tasted like baking powder to me. it was a huge disaster, it even tasted sour, not very sweet at all. he even followed the recipe. is there something special you have to do to it?

  68. I just discovered Smitten Kitchen this morning. God Bless Google!!! Love your recipes, photography, presentation – all of it! Thanks!

  69. I’m about to make this with peaches and was wondering if you think it would work to add the crumb topping from your “Big Crumb Coffee Cake” to this base? Maybe I’ll just be bold and try it…

  70. Update: success! I sliced the peaches real thin, then made two layers of cake and peaches. I also subbed almond extract for the vanilla. I topped it with the crumb topping from the Big Crumb Coffee Cake recipe and I must tell you, it is divine. It needed some extra time in the oven, but it is just lovely. Thanks for the inspiration!

  71. My Grandmother, from Austria made this. I’m not sure how close this to her recipe. BUT it sure does LOOK EXACTLY LIKE IT!! Now, I can’t wait to try this. She Died in 1985 at 93yrs old.
    We always looked forward to Grams Plum Kuchen…and Plum Dumplings (another Austrian/Germanic recipe)
    THANK YOU…

  72. I made this cake last weekend, where it was plished off in one sitting by happy guests. I added about a teaspoon (one short pour) of almond extract, and otherwise followed the recipe. That made it really outstanding. Thanks, good luck with the birth!

  73. Made mine. They are in the oven now. I made them in a cupcake mold. I chopped up fruits and made eachone a different flavor. Let’s see if they will be edible (I’m a bad cook).

  74. I made this cake for a backyard barbeque. It was okay, but I think the key is to have really ripe plums. Seems obvious in retrospect, but mine weren’t great and I think that really affected the moistness of the cake. I’m giving it a second try though, since the batter was so delicious before baking…

  75. i think this is the most beautiful cake. The top picture reminds me of one of those walls that is made of old wine bottles laid in cement. Does anyone know what i’m talking about?

  76. Just made this cake and had the same problem as Katherine (#92). The area around the plums and underneath them is completely underdone, so much to the point that we’ve actually had to eat around some pieces (the cake itself is delicious!) I wasn’t able to bake the cake any longer for fear of drying/burning. Maybe the dome of skin prevents moisture from evaporating? Is it better to peel the plums, then toss in flour or cornstarch to prevent too much leaking?

  77. Since it is bathing suit season, I subbed applesauce for the oil with excellent results! I couldn’t believe how moist it was! Also used WWPF for the AP. Yum!

  78. Greetings – this recipe is awesome! Just made it last night for a barbeque. My question, though, is that the plums I selected were quite sour even after they baked in the cake. Does this have to do with the kind of plums you have to get? And is it better to peel the plums?

  79. This was so yummy! I halved it in a loaf pan due to an insufficient supply of plums, but two of us polished that cake off in no time…. so I’ll be heading back to the store tonight for enough plums to make the full-size version!

  80. Great recipe! Made this a few weeks ago, I used both plums and apricots that I had acquired from coworkers and they loved it. I too was having the same problems as #92 and #106, the center of my cake was grossly underdone! Imagine my horror when I had it at work and spotted the very center was still mushy! I used a ceramic baking dish, so I wonder if that contributed? I baked this again tonight with just apricots and I used a Pyrex dish; I kept it in the oven for close to an hour before I was satisfied with its doneness. Delicious yet again! I just love the taste of baked apricots, so sweet and tart!

  81. hi!
    I’m from Norway and not familiar with the “cup” measurements…first time I tried this cake (yesterday) it was to wet (it boiled in the oven instead of cooking), second time (today) it looked perfectly fine, smelled lovely but it was very very dry…like dusty dry…tasted good, but you know…
    where am I going wrong…? butter, oil..??

    jannicke

  82. I can use grams…that’s what I did the first time, but then something went very wrong… today I just took a coffeecup and used it for measuring, but that might have left the butter and eggs a bit short… I don’t know…:)
    if you could convert it that would be great, I have plans to give it another go tomorrow!

    1. Okay. The caveat is that I haven’t tested this recipe with the weights I’m giving you. But in general, 1 1/2 cups of flour = 190 grams, 3/4 cup brown sugar = 145 grams, 5 tablespoons butter = 70 grams, 2 teaspoons baking powder = 9 grams. I think if you use those weights, you should get the intended results.

  83. this worked better…! I think I was a bit generous with the oil still, so tomorrow I’ll NAIL it! :) my grandfather, 89, loved it! and no matter how the cake turns out, the batter is to die for..:)

  84. I made this cake and everyone said it needed bit more sugar..can you suggest how i make it more sweet? but it looked amazing..

  85. Note to self: Read all comments before trying a new recipe, especially if guests are showing up in an hour, and how can you be this hare-brained @ your age?

    I also seem to have gigantic plums, but managed to wedge 12 onto this cake. My oven temp is accurate, and I used a metal pan, but also undercooked the center after 50 minutes.

    And yet, I have such an awful girl-crush on Deb, and have had such wonderful results from every previous Smitten project, that I’m sure this is my fault. Next weekend, the hunt begins: tiny plums, or little apricots.

  86. Just popped this in the oven and am licking the beaters now. Based on the batter, this is going to be a magical cake. I added nutmeg and anise to the batter since I was taught how to bake with scandinavian recipes and can’t shake the habit!
    I used regular, non-fancy purple plums since they are all I had and were getting too soft to eat.

  87. I just made this last night (I seem to bake a lot at night) and loved it!!! I had to use half white sugar and half brown as I ran out of brown sugar. I also baked it in a 9 x 13 pan so the cake appeared bigger (though it was thinner) than if it was baked in a 8 inch pan. It’s a trick I do to fake me into thinking there is more there than there really is. I cooked it for 25 minutes I believe in my Fiesta ceramic pan that was buttered but not floured. So yummy!!

    It was great when it came out of the oven and great this morning for breakfast. My husband of almost 2 weeks liked it too!

    My one caveat is that if you use regular purple plums you do not need 8 of them. Maybe 4-5. I had plenty of cut plums leftovers which I just ate up myself. I did notice that the area around the plums was a little gooey (like Katherine (#92) and Cristina (#106) so so I left it in the oven for a bit more. I think since I baked it in a 9 x 13 pan it really helped combat this problem so I would encourage others to try it. I did not peel the plums as I wanted to get their full nutrients. :-)

    I will definitely be baking this cake again!

  88. This recipe worked splendidly, even though we were out of butter (so I substituted 5 + 1 extra tbsp applesauce) and I used 2/3 white whole wheat flour. Delicious!

  89. When I tried to halve/core the plums, i ended up nearly destroying them. Instead, I chose to cut as close to the core as possible on opposite sides of the plum to get a clean, presentable “half.” This cake was really good!

  90. I think I will make this with peaches and blueberries. Has anyone tired that? I need an easy quick baking peach cake. I love the sound of this cake with plums but I have peaches on hand and just froze 10 quarts of blueberries (ate all we could before they would go bad). I will try this again in the fall when plums are available in my area.

  91. Loved the cake, but the giant, crappy supermarket plums I bought did this cake no favors. Same issue as some others with undercooked batter near the plums and dry edges. I blame the plums, and think this would have been awesome with smaller farmers market plums.
    But I loved the cake so much that I jut put another pan in the over with lemon zest and blueberries on top instead, and have high hopes.

  92. I just made a plum cake for all the same reasons and then I read this blog! Cool. Love reading your blog and the your photos are awesome, so vibrant and such interesting compositions :) I think your site just became my “go to cookbook.” Thanks so much!

  93. I am going to make this tonight for my office birthday buddy – with cherries! I bought a test plum but it was dry and tart and so I’m not chancing it. Stone fruits are all so chancy, but cherries seemed the most dependable. I hope it is as beautiful as with plums (and I don’t want to die after carefully halving and pitting a square foot of cherries). Also I’m supposed to serve just about 9 so I am torn about whether I need to make two pans. Deb, do you think this would double ok for a 9×13, or would I be better off making 2 separate single batches if I decide I need to? Thanks so much if you get a chance to answer!

  94. This is one of my favourite cake recipes and now that blue plums are in season I’m pretty sure I’m about to obliterate my diet. I use cardamom and some nutmeg in place of the orange zest as my incredibly weird hubby does not like citrus in desserts.
    JMT: I’ve doubled this recipe successfully many times and if you think the plum is too tart, you can sprinkle some sugar right on top of each plum once it’s in the cake before it bakes. It tastes amazing after. That’s what I do with all the blue plums I get that are too tart to eat out of hand.

  95. Thanks for the tip Scientific Baker! I ended up doing a 9×9 – I think my oven temperature was off, unfortunately, but it came out – just a little too dry. I did cherries with orange zest and mint. I also made a sauce with more cherries, the juice from the orange, and a little mint and vanilla. With fresh whipped cream and the tart sauce, it was delicious.

    My pathetic little hand mixer almost konked out with the 10 minutes of mixing though. I really should replace it – it’s a hand-me-down from my grandma and the box has a price sticker for $2.50. It throws sparks sometimes just for excitement.

    5×5 rows with the cherries. I want to try this again with yellow peaches!

  96. I made this lovely cake last night because of an overabundance of organic plums that took over my kitchen, it turned out amazing and the whole house smelled like Christmas, cinnamon and orange perfumed my home, simply wonderful :) The cake was just what I wanted, sweet and flaky but still moist, I cant wait to make it with different season fruit while adjusting the spices in it, but cinnamon and that orange were simply sublime, I also grated the orange zest right above my batter so the little bits of essential orange oil went in as well.

    Last week I made your roasted pepper and mozzarella salad, also a big hit, thank you :)

    kasia

  97. Just made this with lemon zest & peaches from my grandmother-in-law. I didn’t have any vanilla in the house (travesty!) so I added a little lemon juice. The house smells FANTASTIC and the cake is incredible.

  98. I made this cake 2 days ago. I used very sweet plums and followed the recipe to the tee. The cake turned out delicious, and the following day it was more moist and yumm. However, the plums turned extremely sour after baking. :( We had to remove the plums from the cake, in order to eat and enjoy the cake. Any reason why the plums turn sour after baking?

  99. I made this cake for Father’s Day today with Santa Rosa plums from my grandmother’s garden. Delicious! Came out perfectly browned on top, with juicy plums keeping the cake nice and moist. The brown sugar makes it smell amazing and gives it a caramel-y taste. A keeper recipe for when I have extra plums on hand. Thanks Deb!

  100. We just made this after we were inspired by some characters in a book making a plum cake. It was OUTSTANDING!! We used big black plums, so 3 plums was enough. Wouldn’t change a thing. Served it with whipped cream.

  101. Um…this might be a really dumb question, but if you were to do the alternate fruit variations using leafy herbs (cherries/mint; peaches/basil), how do you get the herbs into the recipe? Do you shred or mince and stir into the batter, or mince and sprinkle on top before baking, or ??? Thank you!

  102. Made this last night; some notes:

    I’d definitely make this cake ahead. I liked mine MUCH better a full 24 hours after it was baked than right after (it got much moister and yummier).

    I usually try not to go crazy with sugar when I bake, but my cake was dramatically improved by the suggested sprinkling of powdered sugar. Was necessary to balance my too-tart plums.

    Happy baking!

  103. I’d never made a plum cake but it always appealed greatly. And when I picked up some nice looking Italian prune plums and started to google plum cake recipes, it did not surprise me at all that I’d find such a recipe on Smitten Kitchen.

    I decided to whip this up on Sunday night and didn’t change the recipe at all, other than using less plums (which turned out to be a mistake on my part). It was just delicious – moist, just the right note of sweetness balancing the tangy plums, and I loved the golden brown colour from the brown sugar. I didn’t add powdered sugar on the top and might consider that in future, but even so I loved it. I imagined it as an accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea – an afternoon/evening snack. But I confess that I’ve had it for breakfast the last couple of mornings, with a glass of ice cold skim milk. I’m about to head to a work meeting and I’m bringing some along to butter up my colleague – he doesn’t stand a chance.

  104. I could not have seen this recipe at a better time – tommorrow is the first dayof Autumn, I discovered a whole bag of uneaten plums in the house today, I have everything I need to make this cake, and I have an afternoon tea tomorrow which this cake would be perfect to bring to! It would be a crime NOT to make it!

  105. Just tried this recipe with about eight really gorgeous plums, just on the edge of overripe. I’m very sad to say that while the cake itself is quite tasty, my plums also went terribly sour in baking. I tasted a few chunks of plum prior to putting them in the cake, and they were definitely sweet at the time.

    As has been mentioned, science doesn’t seem to have a great understanding of why this happens, beyond reactions breaking down sugar. But I’d love to know any tricks to make it -not- happen. :(

    On the plus side, a generous shake of granulated sugar over one’s plate does make the plums moderately edible.

  106. This has become one of my “standard repertoire” cakes. I use the original cardamom instead of the suggested cinnamon as it has always been a favorite of mine. Like the previous poster said the plums always do go sour when baked, but that’s what I love about this recipe; the contrast of the soft sour plums to the fragrant sweet sturdy cake. Even bland imported plums works for this reason.

  107. I made this for my coworkers today! My struggle was that the cake didn’t turn out as firm as I expected. When I tried to invert it, I broke it! Tastes delicious but needs a little help. Thoughts? :)

  108. I made this last night to bring to a friends BBQ and everyone was blown away. It was so delicious! The powdered sugar on top, I believe, is essential. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  109. I made this today, in a round dish (20 cm across) and thought, as it is sooo little dough, in such a big dish, I won’t have to bake it for 40 min.

    WELL!!! It looked absolutely fabulous after 25 min, and I tested it with a wooden skewer (came out clean). Let it cool for 5 min, then overturned it to a cake plate, and the upper crust split to reveal that underneath there was a big puddle of liquid dough. I got SO mad… slammed the whole thing back into the baking dish and into the oven. Slunk off to eat half a bag of potato chips.

    After about 20 min I took the cake out, and it was delicious. Looked like a train wreck :-D but tasted great, the plums were disintegrated into s.th. like jam, and the dough was yummy too.

    I used half dark muscovado sugar and half white sugar. And I took off 3 tiny portions of the dough to bake in my mini-muffin-tray. They turned out crisp and yummy after 7 min in the oven. My kids loved them.

  110. This was my one and only smitten kitchen failure to date. I used Italian prune plums and used 10. The cake baked for 40 minutes, tester cam out clean, and the top was golden. Sadly, the cake UNDER the plums (where you can’t stick a toothpick) was raw. The whole cake fell and then oozed raw batter when inverted. I think next time I’ll try a 10 inch round pan rather than an 8 inch square — I think it was just too thick under the juicy fruit.

  111. I am making this again this year, right now, today! I have been craving it, and I have been out of state for 2 months and missed my fruit tree harvests. But, the plum tree had 10 little treasures waiting for me when I got home. I am so glad it held on tot hose for me, because I love LOVE this cake. One might think, “PLUM??? Cake? really? Huh. ” I know I did at first, but it really is delicious and so moist and flavorful. Thank you so much for posting this.

  112. This cake is surprisingly delicious because I thought it would be too simple to be interesting. I waited too long in the season so had to use regular plums but it was so easy and great texture, can’t wait to make it again. Thanks Deb!

  113. We have a website about Irish things, that also includes a tiny page with recipes made by children. Our project is barely starting, but our first little chef was a boy aged 4 who actually made your recipe with his mom and sent us the photos :)
    We’re really proud of them and I thought you should know that your plum cake was replicated in an Irish kitchen, by a 4 year old. We of course put your credentials for the recipe.
    Cheers, and keep up the good work!
    Greetings from Ireland.
    Anna.

  114. Hi Deb:

    I have made this cake on and off since I left home a long time ago. My mother used to make it as well (at the time, she had a tendency to make it for summer B-days and I was glad my B-day was not in the summer becauseI liked the rather more extravagent cakes I got in the winter). It’s nice to see the recipe on your site. However, we have always made it with Italian plums. AND we never sliced them. I realize that plums are expensive in NYC, but should you win the lottery, you should make the cake using unskinned plum halves that are spread across the cake as tightly as you can manage it. Unless you really hate that ratio of fruit to cake you should try it. I was going to try to describe the deliciousness, but I’m on an IPad and it would take too long. . .

  115. Oops! I noticed that you have it as purple plum cake later in the blog (I haven’t gotten there yet), but will. But you put the plums upside down? we never do that. . . Oh well, maybe I’ll get there and see that someone else commented on that. This is a very common European type of cake.