An Easy Italian Plum Cake that is made with the season’s beautiful Italian plums. This super soft and delicious cake can be customized with different fruits and can be enjoyed all year long! Perfect for breakfast, or for dessert.
Every bite is filled with lovely jammy pools of plum sweetness and a delicate crunch from the turbinado sugar topping. With a touch of cinnamon on top, it smells like fall while it’s baking away. Totally dairy-free and can be made gluten-free. You could make the whole cake batter in one bowl by hand!
This luscious cake is delightful on its own when it’s nice and warm. But if you’re feeling decadent, go ahead and enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, or even whipped cream. In my opinion (if you’re wondering??), it is best enjoyed in its simple beauty with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
And if you’re expecting guests, you can double the recipe. Just bake it in a 9×13 pan. It will really impress your friends! I have impressed my friends and neighbors with it, so trust me, bake it for your guests!
I have to give credit where credit is due. This is a riff on an apple and plum cake that I make. Which is a riff on an apple cake recipe my suocera (mother-in-law) taught me how to make (and I made it vegan (GASP!) Teresa’s Vegan Apple Cake. When I saw taught me, I’m saying that pretty loosely. I’m pretty certain she still believes that I don’t know how to cook, let alone bake.
You see, she holds onto her recipes pretty dearly. And if I am not quick enough, I’ll miss a step or an ingredient. And good luck on asking her to repeat what she said or to demonstrate again what she just did.
She doesn’t like to share her recipe secrets, well, at least with me! So, be lucky we have this cake here.
Most recipes she makes by heart, and she does have a secret recipe book with her written notes. Good luck if anyone thinks they’ll catch a glimpse of that treasure trove! But, back to this cake…
What ingredients are in this Italian plum cake?
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- sea salt
- granulated sugar
- oil (any mild flavored oil)
- Greek Yogurt (dairy-free almond yogurt)
- plums (I used Italian plums, but any plums will work)
- turbinado sugar
- ground cinnamon (or even nutmeg)
How to make an easy one layer Italian plum cake
Gather up all your ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prep a 9-inch cake pan. I prefer to use a springform and I prefer to spray it with baking spray.
Step 1: Whisk the Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sea salt. I like to add the lemon rind to the flour.
Step 2: Mix the wet ingredients
With an electric, stand mixer, or by hand, cream together sugar and eggs until it is lightly and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the oil, and mix on low until it is combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, and the buttermilk, ending with the flour flour mixture. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to combine all the flour.
Step 3: Bake
Transfer cake batter to prepared pan.
Top with sliced plums. I push some of the plum pieces into the cake. You could even combine some of the plums in the batter after you mix it together. But I find they sink in as the cake bakes, so I just place them on top of the cake.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar and a dash of cinnamon over the cake top.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven. When it’s still hot, use a sharp knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the sides of the pan. If you used a springform pan, pop it open carefully and place the cake (with the pan bottom)on a cake rack to cool.
Let the cake cool completely. Once it cools remove the cake pan bottom (or you could leave it on).
Serve plum cake warm (my favorite way to enjoy) or even cold. Lovely with a scoop of ice-cream or whipped cream. So nice for breakfast.
What plums are best for this cake?
I used the smaller Italian plums. I can only find them here about 1 week in September. Then as fast they arrive at my favorite fruit market, they are gone!
They need to be hidden before everyone devours them. And what remains, gets made into this amazing cake! So, typically I will use about 10-12 Italian plums and maybe 5-7 other types of plums (since they are bigger and rounder). The more ripe the plums are, the better the flavor of the cake will be! They will bake up sweet like honey!
If using larger plums, quarter them instead of cutting them in half.
I ended up placing some slices that were quartered, and some that were halved, on top of the cake. I liked the variation of the shapes and the design it made while baking.
Is it a prune or a plum?
In the States, these are called prune plums or “Stanley” plums. It’s super easy to separate the flesh from the pit and these are the plums that are typically uses to make prunes.
Very distinctive with their oblong shape and only found late summer and early fall. The skin is a gorgeous deep purple and is almost reddish blue, with a sweet flesh. These are my absolutely favorite plums!
They’re quite the delectable fruit and you’ll find that they hold up well in cooking or even baking.
How ripe should my plums be?
Look for ripe plums that are not super soft. Keep in mind, you’ll need to put them. So if the plums are too juicy and soft, you’ll have a hard time pitting them. They will literally fall apart as you cut them open. Look for a plum that is ripe, but not mushy.
Do I have to peel the plums before baking?
No, you sure don’t! It wouldn’t even be easy to peel these Italian plums. Definitely leave the plums with the peels on. The peels bake up to be very soft.
Can I make this cake gluten-free?
Yes, use your favorite 1-1 gluten-free flour. I like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur’s Flour.
Is this cake dairy-free?
Yes, it is totally dairy-free! But you could use real buttermilk and butter to make this cake with dairy.
What size cake pan is best for this recipe?
I used a 9-inch springform cake pan.
On occasion, I have made the cake in 10-inch pan, but the cake ends up baking up flat (and it bakes up quicker). A smaller cake pan gives a little more height to the cake.
How to store this plum cake?
Keep the cake just for one day on the counter. IF you have any leftovers (I never do in my house!), store the keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
Can you freeze this cake?
Yes, once it completely cools down, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store in an freezer safe container. Or cut in slices, wrap each slice in plastic wrap, and place in zipped lock freezer bags. Keep for up to 2-3 months in the freezer. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter.
Variations for this cake:
- Different Fruit: Change up the fruit for the season. Lovely with apples, pears, peaches, cherries, apricots, blackberries, blueberries and even strawberries.
- Milk: For dairy-free, use your favorite unsweetened milk, like coconut, oat or use almond (like I did). If you’re not dairy-free, use whole milk.
- Gluten Free: Use your favorite gluten-free flour.
- Dairy free: Keep it totally dairy-free like we did using a dairy-free yogurt. If you’re not dairy-free, use your favorite unsweetened Greek yogurt.
- 9×13 Pan: Easy to double and make in a 9×13 pan.
Some other easy fruit cakes to enjoy:
- Guava Jam Coffee Cake
- Vegan Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
- Apple Crumb Coffee Cake
- Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake
Easy Italian Plum Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 lemon, zest organic is best
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup oil any mild flavored oil
- 1 cup buttermilk I used unsweetened almond milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 10-12 Italian plums pitted and sliced in half (or 5-7 larger plums, sliced in quarters)
- 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons margarine or butter (if you're not dairy-free)
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan with removable bottom. If you have baking spray, I prefer to prep my cake pans with baking spray.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Toss in the lemon zest and with your hands, mix it into the flour mixture to release the lemon essence.
- In a large bowl with an electric, or stand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until creamy (about 5 minutes). You could also make the cake by hand. Beat in the oil and buttermilk. Mix well.
- Add flour mixture into the wet mixture a half up at a time. If using a mixer, pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl with spatula and mix well after every addition.
- Spoon the cake batter into your prepped cake pan.
- Top the cake with the plum slices. Push some of them gently into the cake batter.
- Sprinkle the turbinado sugar mixed with the cinnamon and thin pats of margarine (or butter) on top of the cake.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Check cake at 50 minutes. Every oven is different.
- If cake is browning, cover with aluminum foil for remainder of baking time.
- Remove the cake from the oven. When it's still hot, use a sharp knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the sides of the pan. If you used a springform pan, pop it open carefully and place the cake (with the pan bottom)on a cake rack to cool.
- Let the cake cool completely. Once it cools remove the cake pan bottom (or you could leave it on). Best served warm.