Thursday, September 22, 2016

Italian Plum Cake, aka summer fruit cake

The last day of official summer has sadly come and gone this week, but here in Vancouver we are still clinging to it.  The sun is fighting valiantly to stay out for another few days (or weeks??), and I am still baking with late summer fruits, trying stave off winter.  Growing up we spent most of our long summer days outside at the barn, which had two large Italian plum trees heavy with fruit at the end of the summer.  I would bring home giant brown paper bags of plums, and once I'd eaten my fill, I of course needed to bake with the rest.  I remember using a classic simple delicious cake recipe, that I have lost over the years.  However when I saw italian plums popping up this summer it made me want to recreate that cake.

I found this recipe on smitten kitchen, and it is definitely a keeper.  It is a thin layer of crumbly slightly sweet cake, packed with fruit.  The juices from the fruit soak into the cake as it bakes and then sits overnight, giving you a delightful cake, with a nice slightly lemony and cinnamon-sugary crisp topping, and pockets of almost jam-like fruit.  As per Smitten kitchen, the original recipe was perfected by the New York times, and has been around years.  The classic is delicious with italian plums, but it can also be adapted with any other fruit/berries you have sitting around in abundance.  We found ripe sweet strawberries on sale this weekend, so I dumped those into this cake.  The results where possibly even more delicious than with plums, I'll probably have to make both again to make a final decision... I can't wait to try it with more fruits - raspberries, apples, the options are endless!  And like all my favorite recipes, it is a one bowl recipe, that is fairly fast to come together

I initially adapted this recipe to be in an 8' cake pan instead of 9', because I was a little short on plums.  Follow the link to smitten kitchen for the 9' large cake recipe.

Italian Plum (or Berry) Cake
Mildly adapted from the New York Times and Smitten Kitchen

75 grams of unsalted butter (6 Tb), ideally at room temperature
2/3 cup of white sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup flour
6-10 italian plums, or 1-2 cups strawberries or other fruit sliced in half (the more fruit the better!)
1-2 tsp lemon juice (juice of 1/2 medium lemon)
1-3 tsp cinnamon + 1 Tb sugar

Make the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350f (175 c), and line an 8' spring form pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer.
  3. Mix in the egg, then baking powder and flour, just until mixed in.
  4. Spread cake batter into your prepared pan.  Layer fruit skin side up, covering the surface of the batter (Squeeze in as many berries/plums as you can in one layer).  
  5. Sprinkle with lemon juice, then cinnamon, then sugar.
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
This is best if rested covered overnight, which allows the fruit juices to continue to sink into the cake, melding the flavors together.  It is worth the wait! 


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