Marian Burros’ Purple Plum Torte

by Hilary Gauntt on September 6, 2014

This wonderful recipe was first published in the New York Times by Marian Burros in 1983; then due to reader demand  published every year after that during plum season until 1995, when the editor of the food section said Enough Already people! Make a copy and don’t lose it! It is fairly simple, just 8 ingredients and 4 simple steps and is guarenteed to generate requests for the recipe.  If possible, make it the day before and let it sit wrapped on your counter overnight.  The cake will absorb the sweet seeping juices making it incredibly moist. Italian purple prune plums are reccomended, but any plums will do.

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Large pinch of salt

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 to 2 Tbs. for sprinkling over

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs

12 smaller purple Italian prune plums, halved and pitted

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Spoon the batter into a 9-inch springform pan sprayed with cooking spray and smooth over the top.  Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it.  Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon, then remaining sugar.

Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.  Cool on a rack. 

Note: It seems like a small amout of batter,but it  will puff up around the plums as it cooks.  My plums were pretty firm and not particularly juicy, but softened during the baking and were fine.

plum cake



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Yvonne Deggelman September 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Hi – Read this post this morning before I went to farmers’ market. Happened to see some small red plums so made this today. And we just finished our dinner with a piece. Mine almost looked as pretty as yours! It’s delicious and so easy. Mike especially loved it –


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