Sundays Your Way: Plum Cake, Two Ways

Nanimo is about as welcoming and generous as it gets. Her home is open to everyone, and you can’t help but feel relaxed and cared for in her presence. Together, her and G. have made the greatest possible effort to make me feel included and at home, which has been greatly appreciated.

She’s also got the best no-nonsense attitude to baking.  A couple of weeks ago, she was somewhat drowning in a sea of plums, and so requested a recipe for plum cakes.  Her specifics were that it needs to be easy and no-fuss, and that I should list the measurements with cups as well as grams.

Incidentally, in the search for plum cake recipes, I came across the joys of badly translated German recipes. Largely my fault for using a free translation page and not speaking any German, but I feel that a recipe starting with ‘100g something’ isn’t going to be very helpful. I did like the very literal translation as it very descriptive…such as ‘agitating’ the butter and sugar.

I ended up making two cakes. One is a Dorie Greenspan recipe and has been featured everywhere on baking blogs before – the dimply plum cake.  I’m ashamed to say that it didn’t quite live up to expectations, the orange and cinnamon flavours were great, but the texture just didn’t quite do it for me…perhaps just a little bit too dry. It is a beautiful cake…S. commented that it looks slightly too perfect and not ‘home-made’ enough. I disagree.

The second is a vegan version of a more bread-like cake. The first version had a great texture, but needed a better flavour, so I have added orange and cinnamon to the dough and that worked pretty well.

The very lovely testers were torn between the two, which is why I’ve featured both. I prefer the vegan version, but it can fall slightly on the heavy side; the vegan version also works better with the no-fuss briefing.  They are both tasty with mascarpone cream.

Vegan Plum Bready-Cake

Just because I love saying this, yes….you can make a non-vegan version with milk and butter. Adapted from here.


1 teaspoon dry yeast

1 tablespoon warm water

375g (3 cups) flour

150g (3/4 cup) caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar, yum)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoons salt

300ml (1 ¼ cups) soy milk

70g (5 tablespoons) plus 14g (1 tablespoon) margarine, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla

8 plums, sliced or quartered

1 teaspoon cinnamon

grated rind of an orange


1)   Heat oven to 170C

2)   Dissolve yeast in tablespoon warm water and set aside.

3)   Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

4)   Stir in soy milk, melted marg, vanilla, yeast mix and orange zest. Mix until combined, the dough should be fairly stiff.

5)   Spoon the dough into square cake tin covered in baking parchment. I used a 9 by 9 inch tin.

6)   Pour over the remaining tablespoon of melted marg and sprinkle with brown sugar. I totally forgot about the melted marg. Ooops.

7)   Bake for 30-40mins, or until tester comes out clean. Should be golden brown on top and the dough should have puffed up around the plums.

Dimply Plum Cake

From Dorie Greenspan’s ‘From My Home To Yours’, found here.


188g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon (I used cinnamon)

70g (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

150g (3/4 cup) light brown soft sugar

2 large eggs

80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted


1)   Preheat oven to 170C

2)   Butter the base of a 9 by 9 inch pan, and then dust with flour.

3)   Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon/cardamom.

4)   Beat butter until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.

5)   Beat in oil, zest and vanilla. The batter should look smooth, creamy and shiny.

6)   Add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

7)   Run a spatula around the edge of the bowl to check that the dry ingredients are properly incorporated.

8)   Scrape the batter into the baking pan and smooth out. It will look really thin, I was very worried but it does rise to a decent thickness.

9)   Arrange the plums cut side up onto the batter.

10) Bake for around 40 minutes. The top should puff up around the plums and it should be light brown. Let cool for 10 minutes, which should allow the juice from the plums to seep back into the cake.

Mascarpone Cream

250g mascarpone

100ml single or double cream

20g icing sugar (or more to taste)

1)   Beat the ingredients together until fluffy. Add more icing sugar to taste.


6 comments on “Sundays Your Way: Plum Cake, Two Ways

  1. Thanks for the kind words–will try and make the bready one–with jam…will let you know how it works.

  2. I have a fairly decadently amazing plum recipe, if you want it I can give it to you when I’m back in the UK and in reach of my recipe books again. It’s incredibly moist and more of a loaf cake than a flat cake, if you get my drift.

  3. I don’t know which of the two I tried, but it tasted good. Very moreish.

  4. A group of us (four big people and one average person in a small kitchen – not a good idea!) made the bready one, which was brilliant. Even if the person chopping the plums kept eating them….It was also robust enough for part of it to survive a trip to London and back in my pocket, which helped!

    Unfortunately it ran out, and I am hungry.

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