Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fresh plum breakfast cake

Fresh plum breakfast cake -- a not-too-sweet treat, perfect for showcasing end-of-summer juicy ripe red plums.

Fresh plum breakfast cake

I found some gorgeous, juicy, ripe red plums at a local farm market recently and my brain immediately jumped to plum cake. A plum cake that you could eat for breakfast.

When I was really small, we had an Italian prune plum tree in the backyard of our house in New York. Now, mind you,  I barely even remember this house (we moved when I was three) but the plums factored in heavily. In fact, I have only three total memories of the place:

  1. Dancing in my next-door BFF Nancy's rec room basement to a real jukebox that played my favorite song at the time -- Elton John's "Crocodile Rock"
  2. Being heartbroken when I got sick all over my favorite stuffed elephant pillow (it was blue and I called it "Nelliephant") and it had to be thrown away
  3. Pulling little purple prune plums off the tree in the backyard, rinsing them under the spigot on the back of the house and eating them, still warm from the sun

Seriously. Those are my only take-aways from that house.

But those plums! My mom used to turn them into this amazing, dense plum cake that I loved -- largely because it wasn't too sweet and, after we'd had it for dessert the first evening, she would often let us have a piece for breakfast, too. Because fruit is good for you, I guess.

Unfortunately, my mom was out of town recently when I scored my red plums so I didn't have access to her recipe. And I wasn't sure I wanted to mess with a classic by trying to use the juicier red plum instead of the prune plum, so I turned to my favorite, reliable baking source -- Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours -- for an alternative.

Once again, Dorie did not disappoint. I made some alterations to the recipe so that my fresh plum breakfast cake turned out a little healthier than Dorie's and slightly more breakfasty than desserty but she gave me a great place to start.

Fresh plum breakfast cake

This fresh plum breakfast cake is definitely cakier than the recipe of my childhood but it's still got that amazing sweet-tart flavor that you can only get from fresh plums that have started to soften and break down from baking.

Not to mention that the larger size of the halved red plums delineate perfectly sized portions of the cake. And they look so beautiful -- like juicy little magenta hearts.

Have you been enjoying seasonally fresh plums? Do you eat them plain or bake with them? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Fresh plum breakfast cake

Fresh Plum Breakfast Cake

(slightly adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
grated zest of 1 orange
3 red plums, halved and pitted (use 4 if they are very small)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom and set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs and beat until well blended. Next, add the oil, vanilla and orange zest and continue to beat until very smooth. On low speed, add the dry mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Pour the batter evenly into a prepared 8 x 8 baking pan. Nestle the plums, cut side up, into the batter in even rows (3 x 3 for medium plums, 4 x 4 for small ones). Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the cake is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

-- print recipe --


  1. Ninj, that looks so good. I love plums, if they're ripe enough. Great job as usual !