caramelized plum cake

September 10, 2012

in Cakes & Tea Cakes

After months of waiting, the Italian plums are finally ripe. The almond-shaped fruit is firm and sweet, with a tangy skin – sturdy enough to withstand some heat. Add butter, brown sugar, and a splash of brandy; you’ll find it’s a combination of pure magic. As my fork found its way into the caramelized plums for a sample, I briefly considered polishing off the entire pan. Restraint won out, however.

I settled on a quick and unfailingly delicious almond cake as the base for the plums. Their syrupy juices infuse the batter during baking, resulting in a moist and light cake. I can’t think of a better way to transition from late summer to early fall.

Caramelized Plum Cake
Caramelized Plums
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 cups Italian plums, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp brandy

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted and finely ground
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add plums and brown sugar; sauté until fruit is soft but not falling apart, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in brandy. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk together ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium-low and add egg and almond extract; beat well. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture, beating just to combine. Add buttermilk, then finish with remaining flour mixture.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth top with an offset spatula. Arrange caramelized plums on top of batter in a single layer; spoon juices over fruit. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake an additional 20 minutes, until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days; warm before serving.

Yield – 16 squares (serving size: 1 square)
Calories – 165
Carbs – 25

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1 Lora @cakeduchess September 10, 2012

I was very happy to see the Italian plums this weekend. I ate them all before baking with them;)This is my kind of a cake…looks delectable, Laura. xx


2 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious September 10, 2012

I really need to bake with plums more often and this is a perfect recipe for it. And don’t worry, I’d polish the entire pan with you!


3 Jennifer | Mother Thyme September 10, 2012

Beautiful! You’re right, this is a great way to transition from late summer to early fall!


4 Valerie September 10, 2012

What a brilliant way to use plums! They’re kind of the unsung heroes of the stone fruit family.


5 Alyssa (Everyday Maven) September 10, 2012

I have to get some of these Italian Plums – I hope my store has them!!


6 cassie September 10, 2012

I can’t wait to try some caramelized plums. They sound amazing, and even better in the cake!


7 Carol | a cup of mascarpone September 10, 2012

A slice of this, and a cup of hot coffee, sounds so good to snuggle up with on a chilly, transitioning into fall day! Lovely.


8 Deb September 10, 2012

The caramelized plums are just hypnotic! What a grand idea, to intensify the tart yet sweet flavor of the fruit and then capture all that goodness in an almond cake. What a lavish introduction to fall baking!


9 Anna @ hiddenponies September 10, 2012

I always enjoy plums in baking more than straight-up…and that bit of brandy sounds perfect, yum!


10 Jen @ Savory Simple September 10, 2012



11 Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers September 10, 2012

This looks delicious Laura! Plums are out here too!


12 Minnie(@thelady8home) September 10, 2012

This looks too good. Very Very tempting.


13 Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking September 10, 2012

I had no idea these are called Italian plums. My grandma has two plum trees and she always uses these type for preserve. She says they are sweeter than the rest and don’t need much sugar.
Your cake looks delicious Laura! A very tempting fall cake


14 Suzanne Perazzini September 10, 2012

I hope the Italian plums are still around when I get to Italy in a couple of weeks. I always look forward to the summer fruits and ours haven’t arrived here yet.


15 The Squishy Monster September 10, 2012

How perfect for anticipating Autumn–gorgeous and delish!!


16 Patty September 10, 2012

Lovely use of the Italian plums, the slices look so good peaking out of the cake slices;-)


17 Jen L | Tartine ans Apron Strings September 10, 2012

Any cake that’s almond-based rocks! Pair it with caramelized plums and you’ve won me over! Can I have a bite, please?


18 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 10, 2012

Oh they are my favourite plums-they’re sold as sugar plums here and I always buy bags of them as they’re so deliciously sweet. Gorgeous recipe Laura!


19 Rosa September 11, 2012

A great cake! So delicious looking and sounding. Plums are my favorite stone fruits…




20 Baker Street September 11, 2012

Add butter, brown sugar, and a splash of brandy – Now that totally sounds like my kinda treat! :)


21 Maureen | Orgasmic Chef September 11, 2012

Perfect cake – I’d really like this tonight with a lovely cup of tea. :)


22 the wicked noodle September 11, 2012

Caramelized ANYTHING gets my vote, but especially stone fruit!


23 Helena / Rico sin Azúcar September 11, 2012

I didn’t know italian plums were elongated. Here in Spain plums are round and small (and terribly expensive this year!!)
I love fruity cakes, and this must be tasty, juicy and delicate.


24 claire @ the realistic nutritionist September 11, 2012

This is absolutely stunning!!


25 Nami | Just One Cookbook September 11, 2012

I think it’s so hard not to eat the whole thing after you caramelized the plums… I would need a double amount just in case. I’m not sure if I have had Italian plum. The almond cake for plum sounds wonderful. Very simple yet great match. You must have enjoyed tea time… wish I was your neighbor! ;)


26 Averie @ Averie Cooks September 11, 2012

caramelized plums? oh how delicious!!! does this sound! I want to dive in!


27 Mercedes September 11, 2012

I love those little Italian plums! And I bet the flavor is perfect with the almond, yum!


28 Liz September 11, 2012

Oh, how I adore fruit filled cakes! I don’t bake much with plums, but this looks like a delicious place to start :)


29 Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts September 11, 2012

Love all the fall baking! This cake look amazing, and all those yummy juices…..MMMMMmmmmm


30 Marina {} September 11, 2012

Those plums look so super scrumptious! What a perfect end of summer recipe! What will we do without the gorgeous stone fruits :( Oh, right… pumpkin! xo


31 Anne@FromMySweetHeart September 11, 2012

Oh how I love Italian prune plums! They are most definitely worth waiting for! Especially when you carmelize them and pair them with a luscious almond cake. Perfect for the end of summer or beginning of fall! : )


32 Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } September 11, 2012

I just saw these tonight at Whole Foods. I should have picked some up. Your cake looks simply divine. Lovely photos!!!


33 Stephanie @ 52 Kitchen Adventures September 11, 2012

That combination certainly does sound magical. Lovely photos and I love your beautiful new header too!


34 Hannah September 12, 2012

Your timing is perfect – a friend just dropped off a bag of Italian plums from her tree. Can’t wait to try this beautiful cake!


35 what katie's baking September 12, 2012

this really is the perfect transition to fall recipe. delicious!


36 elena-sweetlife September 12, 2012

Amazing use of plums: your cake is so tempting!


37 Asmita September 12, 2012

I am yet to find Italian plums here. Would love to try this recipe but I know would be in big trouble. I don’t think I can stop at just one bite.


38 Barbara | Creative Culinary September 12, 2012

I spent far too many years just eating plums from my hand…now that I’ve found how amazing they are in baked goods I’m doing the best I can to catch up…this is a must have on my list!


39 Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet September 12, 2012

I love plums so much that I rarely bake with them as we eat them fresh before I can even think of a dessert with them! This cake is not only gorgeous ( as all of your desserts are ) but sounds absolutely delicious!


40 Suzanne September 12, 2012

Yum, not sure I could have had the restraint from eating those plums, good job. Almond cake sounds like a perfect match with these plums.


41 Liren September 13, 2012

My daughter loves plums, especially this kind. But these would be all for me…the brandy is fabulous, Laura!


42 Laura @ Family Spice September 13, 2012

Oooh! Italian plums are the best – and these are simply gorgeous!!


43 Terra September 15, 2012

The cake does sound lovely with the plums, and really does look amazing! Gorgeous, Hugs, Terra


44 Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) September 20, 2012

I love almond sweets of all kinds but you’ve just made this cake even better with the plums. Caramelized plums with brandy? I don’t know that I would have been able to resist as well as you did. I can almost smell the brown sugar/brandy goodness!


45 Jennie October 20, 2013

This looks wonderful and I have a lot of plums to use up! I don’t cook with alcohol. Do you have a recommendation for a substitute or should I just leave it out? Thanks!


46 Tutti Dolci October 21, 2013

Hi Jennie, you could flavor the plums with almond extract (probably 1/4 tsp) or vanilla extract once you remove them from the heat. Hope that helps!



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