Learn how to make this plain plum cake with this easy recipe! It's like a pound cake baked with fresh plums on top, which become soft and sour-sweet as they bake. Fresh plums are the perfect flavour contrast for this cake!
Plum cakes tend to be a more rustic bake, popular in many cultures, especially in European countries, like Germany and Italy. A cake with plums can be referred to as a plum torte because it's a single-layer cake, a little on the denser side and closer to a pound cake, baked with fresh plums on top, usually plum halves as opposed to slices. It's a simple, rustic, yet deeply satisfying cake that is a real treat served as a snack in the afternoon.
This cake with fresh plums is a variation of the 1-2-3-4 cake recipe that is so forgiving. The 1-2-3-4 baking ratio is by volume, which translates to 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and 4 eggs. For an 8-inch springform, half of the 1-2-3-4 recipe fits the cake pan perfectly, so that's what you see in the recipe card below.
This post is sponsored by Fruits from Chile. Chile exports more than 2.6 million tons of fruit annually to more than 100 countries across the globe and we are lucky to have access to plums from Chile so we can bake with plums year round!
Ingredients To Make a Plain Plum Cake
This easy recipe for plum cake is made from simple ingredients, including fresh plums and can be flavoured with cardamom, cinnamon, or ginger. Feel free to use any type of plums as long as they are ripe.
- flour—use all-purpose flour specifically. Any changes to the type of flour will result in a different texture and flavour.
- leavening agents, specifically the chemical leavener baking powder. Don't use baking soda here because it would be too much for this cake and there isn't any acidity to balance it out.
- salt—use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt, which is finer and less salty. If using table salt, you may want to halve the amount to control the salt.
- butter—use unsalted butter, or if using salted, you may want to reduce the salt added to the recipe
- sugar—use plain granulated sugar, which will add sweetness without messing with the flavour of the plums.
- eggs—use large eggs. If you use smaller eggs, your cake may end dry or more crumbly.
- vanilla—use pure vanilla extract for the best results. There's no point in using vanilla bean paste in this recipe because it won't show or make a difference and it is more costly.
- plums—pick plums that are firm but ripe. Don't use plums that are too soft because they will be harder to handle and will turn to mush in the oven very quickly
Tip: You don’t want the plums to be super soft. A slightly firmer Chilean plum will give you the best texture and will slice open beautifully so you can bake with them easily. The fruit will soften as it bakes and become even more juicy!
See recipe card for more ingredient information and exact quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
This plain plum cake is highly adaptable and very versatile. I flavoured the cake batter with cardamom and garnished it with sliced almonds. Both of those are optional!
- Anise: I have also baked this recipe with ground anise, which might seem like an unusual pairing, but it works great!
- Warm spices: Try this cake with plums with warm spices like cinnamon, ground ginger, or even allspice.
- Almond: Skip the spices and add a few drops of almond extract to the cake batter instead (up to 1.25 mL or ¼ teaspoon). You could also replace a small portion of the flour (30 grams or ¼ cup) with the same weight of ground almonds, which will create a more dense crumb with a mild almond flavour.
Tip: You can bake with any variety of plums that you can get your hand on, really, as long as they are ripe, but not too ripe!
How To Make a Cake With Plums
Making a plum cake is quite easy! You will make the batter for a simple butter cake, similar to a pound cake, and then top it with plum halves before baking in a springform pan.
Step 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (image 1) before adding the eggs (image 2) and the vanilla. The batter should be fluffy and creamy at this stage (image 3).
Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom or spices (if using) (image 4), then add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl (image 5) and stir them in. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever needed (image 6).
Step 3: Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan, lining the bottom with a round of parchment paper (image 7). Transfer the batter to the pan (image 8) and spread it from edge to edge in an even layer with a mini offset spatula (image 9). Place the plum halves on top of the batter, cut side-down (image 10).
Step 4: You can sprinkle the top of the cake with sliced almonds (or chopped nuts) and garnish with a little turbinado sugar before baking (image 11). Bake the cake until the plums are soft and the cake is golden brown (image 12).
Hint: Let the colour of the cake as it bakes be your guide so you know how long to bake it! It takes well over an hour for it to turn golden brown and this ensures that the cake won't sink when it cools down. The surface will be set and the plums soft.
It's sometimes tricky to remove pits from stone fruit like fresh plums. Sometimes, you can cut the fruit in half and twist it off the pit. Other times, you can't.
If that happens, you may have to place the plum, stem-side down on a cutting board to cut downward on either side of the pit, parallel to it, angling the knife slightly if the knife hits the pit on its way down.
Plum Cake FAQs
Plums come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most common varieties sold in grocery stores has a dark purple/blue skin with bright orange or pink flesh. The pit of Chilean plums is usually quite small compared to other types as you can see from the photos above.
Plums from Chile are picked when they are quite firm. This is to facilitate transportation so that the fruits arrive at your local grocery stores without any damage.
Remember that if you store plums on the counter, they will continue to ripen and mature. Storing them in the refrigerator will slow down the ripening process, which is helpful if you think your plums are perfectly ripe. Chilean plum season ends in May.
If you buy plums that are firm and that are not quite ready to eat, place them in a brown paper bag for 1-2 days and store at room temperature.
Other Recipes To Make With Plums
Plums are so versatile because they have a tart skin surrounding the sweet fruit. If you have a lot of plums to work with, you can make this cake with plums, obviously. But here are some other ideas for baking with them:
- plum jam that you can make with just plums and granulated sugar, or feel free to flavour it with vanilla bean, tea leaves, spices like cinnamon
- plum muffins which are coffee cake-style muffins with a streusel topping
- plum tart which is a fancy dessert: a pie crust with a plum filling that is sweetened with muscovado sugar, which gives the filling a deeper molasses flavour
What To Serve With Plum Cake
Serve slices of plain plum cake with ice cream in the summer months!
If you tried this plain plum cake recipe (or any other recipe on my website), please leave a ⭐ star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Plain Plum Cake
- 190 grams bleached all-purpose flour
- 7.5 mL baking powder
- 3.75 mL ground cardamom
- 1.25 mL Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 115 grams unsalted butter room temperature
- 200 grams granulated sugar
- 2 large egg(s) room temperature
- 5 mL pure vanilla extract
- 4 plums halved and pit removed
- 10 grams sliced almonds optional
- 10 grams Turbinado sugar optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan with parchment, then butter and flour the sides. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugar for 2 to 3 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. Beat the mixture for 2 minutes until it is aerated and very light in colour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure the batter is evenly mixed at this point. You can beat it a little more to make sure.
- Stir in the flour mixture on low speed, just until the flour is completely incorporated.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place the plum halves, cut side down (or up works too!), and pressing them slightly into batter. Scatter a few sliced almonds and some turbinado sugar on top (if using)
- Bake the cake until the edges are golden brown and the plums are soft and releasing their juices. A cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the cake (avoiding the fruit). This could take as much as 90 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then release the cake from the springform pan.
- Let the cake cool completely before slicing and serving.
- Don’t use plums that are very soft. A slightly firmer Chilean plum will give you the best texture and will slice open beautifully so you can bake with them easily. The fruit will soften as it bakes and become even more juicy!
- Note that the baking time is quite long. The baking time may be less (about 60 minutes) if you place the plums cut-side up so the juices evaporate or if you use a larger pan like a 9-inch cake pan.
- Let the colour of the cake as it bakes be your guide so you know how long to bake it! It takes well over an hour for it to turn golden brown and this ensures that the cake won't sink when it cools down. The surface will be set and the plums soft.
- This is a very versatile cake and plums play really well with so many fun spices. Feel free to replace the cardamom with:
- ground anise
- ground cinnamon
- ground ginger
- For a almond plum cake, you can use almond extract (1.25 mL or ¼ teaspoon) and replace a portion of the flour with the same weight of ground almonds (up to 60 grams or ½ cup).
- ground allspice