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Nov 20, 2010 08:12 PM

Modified the Plum Cake and, honestly, outdid myself...

I've been making the famous plum cake recipe (I think it's the Marian Burros?) for a few summers now because I love the look and it's so simple, but I've honestly always found it a bit dry. I've played with it a little in the past, but I never want to futz with it much because its simplicity and the fact that I have it memorized are much of its appeal.

Well last week's farmer's market had the final crop or so of the Italian prune plums, so I figured I'd make a cake for the freezer in case of holiday breakfast emergencies, and figured I'd make one final attempt at moistening it up without losing its bare bones, goes with coffee, tea, milk or port quality. Um, I'm mildly ashamed to admit that instead of popping it in the freezer, the husband and I thought we'd sample it first because it smelled and looked heavenly, with a sugary syrupy crystal-y glaze on top we thought we'd lose when frozen. And in the past 6 hours since it came out of the oven, we've eaten half of it. That's right, half an entire cake. I'm mortified. But also inordinately pleased with myself because I now have the recipe for the easiest, most delicious coffee cake. Let's just hope there are still a few plums there next week so I can make one for the freezer.

Apologies for the approximations - I was playing around with it and not measuring precisely. But it was such a simple fix and it's so insanely good I had to share!

Modified Plum Cake
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup softened unsalted butter (actually, it was probably 14 tbs or so - some had been lopped off for use at breakfast)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
about 1/2 cup 2% Greek style (no sugar added) yogurt
15-20 prune plums depending on size of fruit and your pan
almond extract

Halve the plums (over the bowl to catch the juices) and toss with approximately 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, splash of almond extract, and generous splash of brandy (maybe a tbs or so?). Let sit while you make the batter.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and about a tsp of cinnamon. Cream butter, yogurt and sugar and blend with well-beaten eggs, then mix in flour mixture just until combined without flour streaks. Spread into the bottom of a lightly sprayed springform pan (it wil be very thick). Press plum halves skin side down in concentric circles so flat sides of plums are level with batter. Spoon remaining syrup over the top of the cake. Bake at 350 for 40-50 mins or until set in the center and pale golden. Separate the edges from the sides of the pan with a knife while the cake is still hot and let sit for about 5 more mins before removing the sides.

I'm looking forward to trying it with apples or pears next, and imagine amaretto would go brilliantly instead of the brandy.

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  1. that Marian Burros recipe is a classic. it holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first recipes i ever tried to "healthify" - and it was a success! back in those days Greek yogurt hadn't caught on yet, so i used low fat buttermilk ;)

    i've never been a fan of almond extract - its just one of those things - but i use almond flour in my GF version now, and add cardamom along with the cinnamon. there's also a little lemon zest in there. i haven't thought about it in quite some time. i'm so glad you posted this - i think i need to make one soon!

    oh, and i've done it with pears - it's lovely with brandy and some freshly grated nutmeg.

    4 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      gfg would you please post you GF version? I'm really trying to slip in GF yumms for my daughter. She is having a rough transition and every yum helps. Being a teen can be such a pain, you want to be different but not *that* different ;-|

      1. re: just_M

        here you go!


        ¾ cup blanched almond meal
        ½ cup GF flour blend (homemade or store-bought)
        1 teaspoon baking powder
        ¼ teaspoon xanthan or guar gum
        ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
        ½ cup coconut palm sugar (or a mixture of brown and white sugar)
        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
        finely grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon (or small standard lemon)
        1 large egg plus 4 whites
        ½ cup butter or coconut oil
        ¾ cup low fat sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
        1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
        12-15 Italian plums (a.k.a. prune plums or blue plums)
        Additional sugar & cinnamon for topping

        Preheat oven to 350F, and prepare a 9-inch springform or round cake pan (i like to butter/grease the bottom and sides, AND line the bottom with parchment).

        Halve the plums (discarding the pits), and set aside.

        Sift all dry ingredients - through cardamom - into a large bowl, and whisk to distribute evenly. Set aside.

        Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and set aside.

        In a medium bowl, cream together the whole egg, sugar and butter or coconut oil until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, sour cream or yogurt and vanilla, and mix to combine.

        Add the dry ingredients to the egg, sugar and butter, and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine, being careful not to over-mix. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites, and mix just until incorporated – it’s okay if a few faint white streaks remain throughout.

        Spread the batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan. Gently press plum halves, cut side up, into batter, arranging them in concentric circles so they’re distributed evenly. Sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon over the top.

        Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes (rotating halfway through) until the center is set and the top just begins to brown slightly.

        Remove and cool to room temperature, or serve warm.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Thanks ghg, can't wait to try it! GF is a whole new world and I appreciate your work.

          1. re: just_M

            learning the GF ropes can be a rough journey. any time i can make it a little easier for a fellow Hound, i feel like all the time, frustration, and angst was worth it! ;)

    2. Sounds to me like a "must try"!!

      1. What size springform please?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Joebob

          8, 9 or 10-inch, it all depends on how thick you want the final torte to be. i personally like to use an 8-inch so the batter can really puff up around the plums.

        2. mmm I'm going to try this. Thanks for sharing!