Rustic Plum Cake

"Recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Italian plums work the best. Bought a lot of Italian plums at the farmer's market, so I had to make a few cakes and then freeze most of them. Freezing the cakes didn't seem to hurt the flavor at all. Now all I have to do is pop one out of the freezer when I'm in the mood for a delicious plum cake!"
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Ready In:
1hr 20mins




  • Cook jam and brandy in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until reduced to thick syrup, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and place plums cut-side down in syrup. Return skillet to medium heat and cook until plums shed their juices and thick syrup is again formed, about 5 minutes, shaking pan to prevent plums from sticking. Cool plums in pan, about 20 minutes.
  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F Grease and flour 9-inch springform pan. Process sugar and almonds in food processor until nuts are finely ground, about 1 minute. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand, about ten 1-second pulses. Add eggs, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) and process until smooth, about 5 seconds, scraping bowl once if needed (batter will be very thick and heavy).
  • Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Stir plums to coat with syrup. Arrange plum halves, skin-side down, evenly over surface of batter. Bake until cake is golden brown and wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 40 to 50 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Cool in pan on wire rack until just warm or to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.
  • Note:This recipe works best with Italian plums, which are also called prune plums. If substituting regular red or black plums, use an equal weight of plums, cut them into eighths, and stir them a few times while cooking. Arrange slices, slightly overlapped, in two rings over surface of cake. Do not use canned Italian plums. Blanched whole almonds can be used but must be processed 30 seconds longer until finely ground. The brandy can be omitted, but then you will need to melt the jam with 1 tablespoon water before adding the plums. Don’t add the leftover plum cooking liquid to the cake before baking; reserve it and serve with the finished cake or over ice cream. The cake can be served with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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  1. I used the rasbery jam, the almond extract and omitted the brandy-- came out delish! Not too sweet and we ate it as a dessert and also for breakfast-- this dish looks sophisticated enough to serve at an elegant party-- next time I will take pics!
  2. This cake is dense and moist and not too sweet. This is one of my favorite cake recipes; thanks for posting!
  3. A friend made this recipe for a dessert and then she shared the remaining slice...I ate it for breakfast the next day! It's not too sweet and considered myself very special.
  4. I made this recipe with two slight alterations - I used strawberry jam in place of the jelly, and used amaretto in place of the brandy. The cooked plums kept the inside of the cake moist and juicy, and the extra sauce added afterwards tasted great with some whipped cream!
  5. I have made this recipe from the Cook's Illustrated magazine many times and it always comes out perfect and delicious. If you like almond flavored cake, this is a great recipe. I have not met a person yet who didn't LOVE this cake, and it's so easy to make!


  1. I made this recipe with two slight alterations - I used strawberry jam in place of the jelly, and used amaretto in place of the brandy. The cooked plums kept the inside of the cake moist and juicy, and the extra sauce added afterwards tasted great with some whipped cream!


My parents are from Russia and I was born in Norway. I grew up in Queens, NY. I have lived in Guam, MA, and VA; and in all the places I have lived, I never found pizza, bagels, and bread like they make it in NY. As a New Yorker, you took it for granted, even bad pizzerias in NY were better than what I have tried elsewhere. So, for the past 20 years I have tried to develop my own dough, I have come close. I have worked in Washington, DC, for 14 years in the Federal govt. My husband and I moved to Oregon in 2005. Just left our jobs and the East coast forever! Have no regrets! We love our new state/home. Enjoy camping, hiking, kayaking, and beachcombing. I love to read, mostly science fiction/fantasy novels, and craft projects. Over the years, cooking has developed into a passion for me, my husband is very happy about this obsession, his only gripe is I don't repeat a lot of his favorites because I'm always trying out something new, oh well. So many recipes so little time to explore them all. My cookbook collection is huge, can't help it, I admit it--its an addiction. Then the internet comes along with sites like this one and so many others, what is a person to do? Try them all of course! Since we moved to Oregon, we haven't hooked up our cable TV and don't miss it. In fact, we gained more time--we're in control!
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