Say goodbye to summer in the best way with this easy plum cake recipe from my friend Andy Baraghani’s new cookbook, The Cook You Want to Be. You’ll love how light, tender, and moist it is! Perfect for brunch with a little ice cream or even a dollop of labneh.
To me, plum cake is the perfect homemade dessert to say goodbye to summer and usher in fall. This recipe for plum cake from my friend, Andy Baraghani’s new cookbook, The Cook You Want to Be, is so worth a try because it's easy and with only eight ingredients you probably have the essentials you need already. (A little side note, it was hard to select just one recipe from Andy's book, but this cake ultimately won!)
Thanks to a little buttermilk, this cake is tender and – dare I say the "m word"? – moist with a subtle nuttiness from pistachios (or almonds, if you prefer) whizzed in a food processor until finely crushed into a coarse, sandy powder. I’m a sucker for pistachios in desserts and you’ll find me using them a good bit in recipes like baklava and this Greek orange honey cake. They add a depth of flavor and texture that I truly love. But the star of the show in this cake recipe is undoubtedly fresh, juicy plums.
Sweet-tart plums take a simple vanilla cake recipe to the next level! You’ll want to use plums that are still quite firm — ripe, but not too soft — so they keep their shape while the cake bakes. Plums that are too soft will simply turn mushy instead of jammy, and you definitely want some good chunks of fruit in your cake!
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Ingredients and notes
This plum cake needs just a few simple baking staples, fresh plums, and nuts. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this tender plum cake recipe:
- Pistachios or blanched almonds - Make sure the pistachios are shelled before quickly whizzing them in the food processor with granulated sugar.
- Sugar - Regular granulated white sugar is my go-to here. Brown sugar would work as well, but it does have a stronger flavor, which might impact how the cake tastes.
- Butter - You need room temperature (68 to 70 degrees F) unsalted butter, cut into cubes. Room temperature butter is key here. When sugar and butter are creamed together, the sharp sugar crystals create air pockets in the butter, which in turn aerates the cake batter. In other words, for an airy cake, make sure your butter isn’t coming straight out of the fridge!
- Egg - Since the butter is at room temperature, make sure your egg is as well.
- Buttermilk - Like the egg and butter, allow this to come to room temperature before you use it. If the buttermilk is cold, it will cause the butter to harden up again. Buttermilk cuts the sweetness of the cake and makes it rich and buttery. The acid in it also works with baking powder to help the cake rise.
- Vanilla extract - Vanilla acts as a flavor enhancer, amplifying the other ingredients and adding depth.
- All-purpose flour - You can use gluten-free flour if you avoid gluten, but the cake will likely be more dense. Be sure to use a flour that is a 1:1 swap, like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour.
- Baking powder - To help the plum cake rise.
- Kosher salt - Salt is another flavor enhancer, bringing complexity to the taste of the cake.
- Plums - You need a pound of ripe, firm pitted plums. For a more rustic look, simply tear them up. For something more elegant, slice the plums into equal-sized pieces.
- Turbinado sugar - This is optional, if you want a crackly golden topping on the cake.
How to make plum cake
This is one of those recipes that looks difficult, but actually comes together in just a few simple steps! Here’s how to make this recipe for plum cake:
- Prepare a springform pan. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan and lightly butter and flour it to prevent sticking. Or you can simply line the pan with parchment paper. If you don’t have a springform pan, a regular 9-inch cake pan will work, too. Simply leave some overhang with the parchment paper so you can lift the cake out.
- Blend wet ingredients. Fit a large bowl of a food processor with a blade and add ½ cup shelled pistachios or blanched almonds and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Pulse until the nuts have a sandy texture, somewhat like a very coarse flour. Add ½ cup unsalted cubed butter and the rest of the granulated sugar (you need 1 cup, total) and pulse until well combined. Add 1 egg, ½ cup buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and pulse again until you have a smooth mixture.
- Add dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Add half of this flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and pulse a few times. Add the remaining flour mixture and pulse just until you have a smooth cake batter. Do not over-process the cake batter — you will end up with a dense, chewy cake.
- Add the plums. Pour the fresh plum cake batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface out with a spatula. Grab 1 pound of pitted plums that have been torn or sliced into pieces, and lightly press these into the batter. I like arranging sliced plums in a circular pattern. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Bake, cool, and serve. For a crackly golden topping, sprinkle 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar over the top of the batter. This is optional, so free to skip this. Bake the plum cake on the center rack of a 350 degrees F heated oven until you see deep golden brown edges and a paring knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. This will take 45 to 50 minutes. Place the springform pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 or so minutes before slicing the cake.
Make ahead tips
This cake with fruit is ideal for making ahead of time. In fact, it can be made up to 3 days in advance. Once it cools completely, place the plum cake in an airtight container or cake stand with a dome lid and store in a cool place. Your kitchen counter will do, but you can also pop it in the fridge to keep it fresh a little longer.
Serve it with
Plum cake can be served warm or cold, and needs nothing more than a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Or skip those and simply serve it along with your favorite hot drink, like a boozy Carajillo. It has fruit in it so I think plum cake is a perfectly acceptable breakfast!
Leftovers and storage
This plum cake recipe will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight or cake container. Just be sure it has cooled completely before covering it. To make it last a bit longer, you can also store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Can you freeze plum cake?
Allow the plum cake to cool completely before double-wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap or foil. I typically place the wrapped cake into a freezer safe bag as well for an extra layer of protection. You can also wrap and freeze individual slices, so you can grab a little at a time from the freezer. The cake will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer whether wrapped individually or as a whole.
More cake recipes to try
Fresh Plum Cake with Nuts
- ½ cup shelled pistachios, or blanched almonds
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
- 1 egg
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound plums, pitted and torn or sliced
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar, optional
- Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Or simply line the pan with parchment paper instead. (You can use a cake pan if you don’t have a springform pan; but if you do so, leave an overhang with the parchment paper so you can easily lift out the cake.)
- In a food processor, combine the pistachios and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and pulse until they are a beautiful green sandy texture. Add the butter and remaining sugar and pulse until fully incorporated. Add the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla, and pulse again, scraping down the sides once or twice with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and pulse a few times. Add the remaining flour mixture and pulse just until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the surface with the spatula. Lightly press the plums into the batter and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Scatter the turbinado sugar over the batter. Bake the cake until the edges are deeply golden brown and a paring knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Make ahead tips: You can make the cake up to 3 days in advance. Allow it to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container or cake stand at room temperature.
- Serving ideas: This plum cake is delicious eaten plain with a hot drink, or with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of labneh on top.
- What to do with leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. You can also refrigerate the cake for up to 5 days.
- Freezing instructions: Double wrap the completely cooled cake in plastic wrap or foil. You can either freeze that as is, or place it into a freezer-safe bag for extra protection. The cake will freeze well for up to 3 months.
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