Plum Almond Cake

plum almond cake Every summer around this time of year I look forward to those tiny dark Italian plums that start to appear at the farm stands and markets, as soon as I see them I scoop them up to make a cake or a torte. Last year I made the Purple Plum Torte from the N.Y. Times Cookbook.

plum almond cake

This year I couldn’t wait to make the Plum Almond Cake from Williams Sonoma’s Rustic Italian by Domenica Marchetti, and I’m so glad I did, its my new favorite!

plum almond cake I could go on and on about how fabulous this recipe is but you’re just going to have to make it for yourself. I loved the texture of the crumb, there’s almond meal added in and it makes the texture and taste so amazing.

plum almond cake

There’s also almond flavoring throughout, but what seals the deal for me is the crunchy almond topping, so much flavor in each bite!

plum almond cake

The plums get all jammy as they bake and a pretty ruby red color appears, such a wonderful dessert, I hope you make it!

If you can’t find the small Italian plums I’m sure any variety would be just as good, in fact I think any stone fruit would work just fine.

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Here’s a link to the original recipe, below is my adapted version.

4.8 from 5 reviews
Plum Almond Cake
Adapted from Williams -Sonoma's Rustic Italian by Domenica Marchetti
  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • 1 cup, unbleached flour
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons, baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon, salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup, half and half
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon, pure almond extract
  • 9 Italian plums, halved and pitted
  • ¼ cup of sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8 inch springform pan then dust with flour and tap out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl combine the oil, egg, half and half, zest and juice, sugar and almond extract, blend together.
  4. Add the wet to the dry whisking until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, arrange plums on top of batter, cut side up.
  6. Mix together the 2 Tablespoons of sugar, almonds and butter, then dot the topping all over the cake.
  7. Bake for around 45 minutes, I put my pan on a rimmed baking sheet for easy in and out of the oven.
  8. I ended up baking mine a little more because the color wasn't deep enough and ovens do vary, just make sure the center comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you remove the ring and cut into it.



Purple Plum Torte

plum torteI finally got my hands on some beautiful Italian plums, sometimes called Italian prune plums. I look forward to them each year, but when they become available I know that summer is over, so it’s kind of  bitter sweet. Speaking of sweet, I think it’s about time for a dessert showcasing these beauties!

Italian plums Italian plums are half the size of regular plums and oval shaped. If you were to bite into them you would say they weren’t very juicy but something magical happens when you bake with them, they transform into a sweet/tart jam like consistency, perfect for all your baked goods.

ingredients for plum torte This is an easy to do recipe it has just a few ingredients but the results are fantastic, there’s a reason The New York Times posted it twelve years in a row!  You’ll even be amazed how easy it is to prep those little plums, once you slice into them the pit practically falls out by itself, so everything comes together quickly. Don’t worry if you can’t find the smaller Italian plums that I used, the larger ones would work as well.

purple plum torte In no time you’ll have this not too sweet, moist and buttery cake that has the perfect crumb packed with jammy plum flavored goodness to enjoy.

plum torte Get that coffee going ASAP!

Recipe adapted from Marian Burros, Elegant but Easy, The Essential NY Times cookbook and Smitten Kitchen

Purple Plum Torte
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ to 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 Italian plums, pitted and cut in half ( adjust the amount if using larger plums)
  • sugar and cinnamon for topping
  1. In small bowl, sift first three ingredients.
  2. In larger bowl, cream sugar and butter, until fluffy then add eggs one at a time.
  3. Add flour mixture and beat well.
  4. Spoon the batter into a buttered 9 inch spring form pan.Smooth out the top.
  5. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter.
  6. Sprinkle top lightly with sugar and cinnamon, about 1 teaspoon of each.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
  8. Cool before cutting.

Baking with Fruits of the Season

When it comes to baking I usually go for the more “rustic style”, nothing long and complicated for me, quick breads, muffins, one bowl whatever. I get excited when I don’t have to pull out my hand held beaters. I don’t own a Kitchen Aid and probably never will although I do like those pasta attachments!

That’s why I love making this cake, Torta di Mele, which is an Italian apple cake. Just grab a big bowl and combine:

2 Cups of flour
4 Eggs
1 Cup of canola oil
1 Cup sugar
2 Teaspoons baking powder
3 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
6 apples cored, sliced and tossed in the juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until smooth. Pour batter into a buttered 9 or 10 inch spring form pan and place your apple slices all around gently pressing them in as pictured above, then bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool and serve at room temperature.

I love Italian plums, when I see them I’m instantly reminded of my favorite aunt and uncle who grew them proudly on their property, they’re much smaller than the standard black and red plums that we normally see, their texture is a little firmer and they hold up great in baking. My friend Stacey calls this recipe, Plum Cake for Dummies, which is right up my easy baking alley!

Italian Plum Cake

For my recipe I used the Italian plums which I sliced in half and pitted, you can use as many as you want filling the whole top of the cake if you so desire. The key to this recipe is the easy batter which consists of;

1 1/2 Cups flour
2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/4 Cup canola oil
1/2 Cup milk

Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle over plums,
1 Tablespoon of sugar combined with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.


Mix the wet with the dry ingredients, I used my hand held mixer, then pour the batter into a buttered 8 inch square pan.
Place your plum halves on top of the batter facing cut side up, I pressed one deep into the batter and then another one directly on top of that, so I used 2 halves per section right on top of each other pressing down a bit.

Sprinkle the plum halves with cinnamon sugar and dot the top of them with 2 tbsp of butter and bake at 375F for 40-45 minutes.
This cake was super moist and great with a hot cup of french roast coffee! This would be equally good using other stone fruits or even apples, why not!

And lastly, for a nice Sunday breakfast that you can prepare the night before and pop in the oven the morning of, Baked Cranberry Apple French Toast.

Wouldn’t you like to wake up to the smell of this baking in your oven? It’s easy, here’s how you do it.


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 or 3 tart apples, depending on size, peeled, cored and thinly slice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 loaf of Italian or French bread, cut into 1-inch slices
3 large eggs
3/ 4 cups milk
1 tbsp. pure vanilla
Feel free to spike it with some rum or Amaretto for extra added flavor!

Toss apples and cranberries with brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. In a buttered 8×8-
inch baking dish arrange bread cubes on top. Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining 2 tsp. cinnamon until well blended. Pour mixture over bread, soaking bread completely. Arrange apple and cranberry mixture all over then cover and refrigerate overnight. Next morning, bake covered with aluminum foil in a preheated 375F degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Serve warm, garnish with slivered almonds and serve with maple syrup!
Buon Appetito!