Spice Plum Cake

We inherited several foodie bonuses with the house that we are renting – the first in the form of strawberry plants that grew up this Spring and treated us to small strawberries for which the phrase “taste explosion” was created. There is also a rhubarb plant, many daisies, and several fruit trees on the side of the house. One of these is a fig tree that the landlord says his wife’s grandmother brought as a clipping from Greece. So far I’ve been able to harvest about a dozen figs. The most bountiful harvest is coming from the plum tree – I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me weeks to figure out which fruit it was going to be. Plum TreeMy first guess was apricots, then nectarines (they just took so long to really turn purple). Some chef. But they are just starting to ripen up well now, and the tree is loaded with fruit. In an effort to find a new way to enjoy them, I pulled up a recipe randomly online and after messing around with some of the ingredients, came up with a “cake” that I can eat without guilt. It would make a great breakfast or brunch cake, toasted up with cinnamon-butter, or eaten with ice cream or whipped cream after dinner. Note: don’t be shy with the spices. I feel if you are going to have “Spice” in the name, it had better be one of the main things you can taste. The trick is to balance the different spices well so that it’s not all clove-tasting, or cinnamon. Here’s the recipe:

• 2 pounds (or so) fresh plums
• butter for coating springform pan, about 2 T.
• 3 T. crystalized ginger, cut into tiny pieces

• 2 cups brown sugar (I used a crazy mix of succanat, brown sugar and splenda since that is what I wanted to use up in the cabinet – gotta love those bulk bins)
• 1 cup canola oil (when baking, it’s always canola, never any other kind)
• 4 oz of unsweetened applesauce (one of the indiv. containers for lunch boxes is perfect and you don’t end up with a mostly full jar of applesauce in your fridge)
• 3 eggs***
• the juice from cutting and pitting your plums (saved on the cutting board)
• 3 T. vanilla extract

• 3 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 3 T. ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (always fine sea salt for baking)

***make this cake vegan easily by using Egg Replacer (Ener-G rocks) beaten with water for the 3 eggs and doubling the applesauce


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. I love the Kaiser pan, it’s the only one I know of that doesn’t ever leak.
springform pan

Pit and halve the plums on a cutting board or prep tray with a lip. Save the juice for the wet ingredients. Place the plums, Pitted Plumscut sides up, in the bottom of the pan and sprinkle them with the crystalized ginger. The bottom will probably NOT be covered Plums in Pan
in its entirety by the fruit.

In an electric mixer if you’ve got it (or by hand if you don’t), beat the sugar and the other “wet” ingredients on med speed until well combined. The wet ingredients would be the oil, the applesauce, the plum juice, the vanilla and the eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and the spices. Add this “dry” mixture to the batter in the mixer and blend well on low. Don’toverbeat the batter, stop beating when all the dry has disappeared. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and give it a last stir.

The batter will probably be too thick to pour easily, so scoop it over the plums as uniformly as possible, and then use a spreader or spatula to smooth. (Tip: wet your tool before spreading and the batter won’t stick to it). Bake the cake for 50-ish minutes at 350 degrees, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately run a thin knife or spreader around the edge of the cake to keep it from sticking to thespringform sides. After cooling for 10 minutes, open the springform and remove the sides. Allow to cool another 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.





  • You will need to use a springform pan for this recipe, unless you aren’t really concerned about presentation. A cake pan would work, but the plums will make for some ugly pieces.
  • My substitution of whole wheat pastry flour made for a very dense cake, definitely on the “hippy” side, however the taste was still nice. Unless you want to use whole wheat from a health perspective, this would definitely be better for the average palate using all-purpose white flour.
  • The whole wheat pastry flour combined with leaving the skins on the plums makes for a baked good FULL of fiber
  • The sourness of the plums works really well with the cake batter, although if I make this again, I’d up the spice quotient.
  • Holds well, next day is still very moist (thank you applesauce). Good sign that it will freeze well.


Bottom Line

I wouldn’t buy plums specially to make this recipe, but with all the bounty on the trees outside, this recipe is a keeper. Would try it with APW (all-purpose white flour), or maybe a combo, next time unless still watching the processed flour/sugar intake. For a healthy recipe, this is really good.Plum Spice Cake



  1. Jamie said

    I’m sooooooo there.

  2. marcia said

    “For a healthy recipe”?!?!

    I thought your motto was “good AND good for you.” 😉

  3. Mary Holderby said

    Such a pity that the person providing the recipe thought that canola was available worldwide – it isn’t which means people who cannot get it can’t try the recipe. Even recognising this small fact and providing an alternative would be more helpful.

  4. Sierra said

    You can any kind of Olive, a veg oil or light Olive oil, its not that hard to find a good oil and use it!

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