Plumb Good Plum Cake

Summer was made for plum-filled cake.
Summer was made for plum-filled cake.

When Zoë Francois singles out a particular recipe as being her favorite in her new cookbook, you’d be a fool not to make that one first.

Her “Plum Cake” from “Zoë Bakes Cakes: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Favorite Layers, Bundts, Loaves, and More” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, easily merits that adoration.

Francois, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and worked as a pastry chef at several Minneapolis-St. Paul restaurants, is also the creator of the wildly popular web site, ZoëBakes.

The cookbook is a must for anyone who loves baking cakes. Many of the recipes are unfussy enough for any home-cook to bake, such as “Lemon-Curd Pound Cake,” “Banana Cream Cake,” and “Olive-Oil Chiffon Cake.” For those who want to take things to the next level, Francois also includes detailed advice on working with fondant and piping bags, along with more ambitious recipes for “Blackberry Diva Cake” and a DIY “Wedding Cake.”

The batter for the “Plum Cake” comes together in a jiffy in a food processor. It includes three types of flour: all-purpose, almond, and whole wheat.

Arrange the plum slices on top of the batter.
Arrange the plum slices on top of the batter.
Ready for serving.
Ready for serving.

After the batter is tipped out into a springform pan, the top is arrayed with fresh, sliced plums. The recipe originally detailed 4 plums. Maybe mine were smaller, but I found that I needed 6, so I amended the recipe to reflect that. Three quarters of the way through baking, the cake gets showered with cinnamon sugar and dotted with butter.

That last touch creates a delicious sugary-crusted top, with the jammy plums peeking through prettily. The recipe would probably work well with most any stone fruit or even halved strawberries or cherries.

Perfect for so many occasions.
Perfect for so many occasions.

The cake boasts a fine crumb that’s moist, light, and fluffy. The plums adds a perky sweet-tart taste.

Enjoy it as is for breakfast, brunch or afternoon snack. Or add a dollop of whipped cream to get a little fancy for dessert.

A cake that shows off summer plums in all their beauty.
A cake that shows off summer plums in all their beauty.

Plum Cake

(Makes one 9-inch cake)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 to 6 plums, quartered

For topping:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom and sides with greased parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla and process until smooth. Add all three flours, the baking powder, and salt and mix together by pulsing several times, just until smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Gently tap the pan on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles. Add the plums in a spiral on top of the batter. Set the pan on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 45 minutes.

To make the topping: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.

Carefully sprinkle the topping over the baked cake and then dot with the butter.

Continue baking until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then run a knife around the edge. Remove the sides of the springform and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Adapted from “Zoe Bakes Cakes” by Zoë Francois

More Fresh Plum Recipes to Enjoy: Chicken in Plums and Sweet Spice

And: Plum Strueselkuchen

And: Plum Tart by Gail Simmons

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4 comments

  • This really looks luscious! Don’t often bake with plums, but they have terrific flavor. So should make a point of doing it more often. Really excellent looking recipe, and the book sounds wonderful. Thanks!

  • Hi John: You’re welcome! I know what you mean — summer stone fruit is so great just all on its own that it’s hard to leave some for baking. 😉

  • One of my all time desserts when traveling in Germany and Austria is plum cake. Now I have another good recipe to try. I agree with you about adding more plums, yours looks similar to what I’ve had in the past.

  • Hi Karen: There are so many iterations of plum cake. This one is definitely a winner! 😉

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