Dimply Plum Cake

The one simple, rustic cake I make, year after year, during the short window in late August when Italian plums can be found. It's sturdy, it's fruity, it's a cake to savor bite by bite. Who's heard of cookbook author Dorie Greenspan? We have Dorie to thank for this summer cake, just sweet Italian plums burrowed into a cardamom-sweet, citrus-scented rustic cake. Me, I like to serve it with a dollop of Swedish Cream, whipped cream made with a touch of sour cream and cardamom.

Fresh & Seasonal, Perfect for a Late-Summer Sweet Treat.
Dimply Plum Cake ♥ KitchenParade.com, a rustic cake topped with sweet Italian plums burrowed into a cardamom-sweet, citrus-scented batter. Recipe, tips, nutrition & WW points included.

Waiting On the Plums from the Backyard Tree

On My Mind: Beating the Birds to the Plums ♥ KitchenParade.com

The concept of edible landscaping has captured my imagination: creating beautiful backyard landscapes with food-bearing plants, shrubs and trees.

But it may be tricky, methinks, as learned while waiting for plums to ripen in a backyard tree.

"Any day now," my now-husband would warn. "You'd best get those plums before the birds get 'em."

But how can a mere cook compete with birds that flutter amid the boughs, awaiting the exact second when the sun has kissed the fruit just long enough, when the sweet flesh will yield to a waiting bird beak human hand?

Finally, one lazy-perfect Sunday morning, I stretched into the fruit-burdened branches, checking the plums for ripeness. Many were upripe, unwilling to give way. Others collapsed in my hand, where, long past ripe, ewww, bugs had already taken up residence. Someplace in the center of the ripeness continuum were a handful of juicy, plump plums.

The experience gives me new respect for commercial fruit growers who deliver almost-ready fruit to our supermarkets.

I'm as happy with "locally grown" as the next person, but my goodness, the abundance and consistency of our global food supply, it's quite something.

When the two sides – local and global – meet and cooperate, we who so love fresh food, we're going to be as happy as birds in a late-summer plum tree.

And So What About The Plum Cake?!

Dimply Plum Cake ♥ KitchenParade.com, a rustic cake topped with sweet Italian plums burrowed into a cardamom-sweet, citrus-scented batter. Recipe, tips, nutrition & WW points included.

Quick Note on the photo above, it shows way less fruit than is best in Dimply Plum Cake. That year, the Italian plums were very ripe and many were over-ripe, verging on rotten. So I ran short. Do use as many plums as you can squeeze into the pan in a single layer.

Isn't it gorgeous? The plum cake – fondly dubbed the "dimply plum cake" – is a favorite recipe from my current favorite baking cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

I'm not alone in loving Dorie's plum cake, so many food bloggers have made it too.

But Dimply Plum Cake is classic Kitchen Parade: a few ingredients, a straight-forward technique, slightly rustic, slightly spicy, barely sweet, supremely satisfying.

The cake itself is reminiscent of the peach blueberry cake from a 2005 column.

Someday this winter, I shall recapture lazy summer days by topping one or the other with sour cherries and rhubarb from the freezer. Plums may be gorgeous, but if the birds get to them first, find another fruit to enjoy!

Fresh figs? Yes, I think fresh figs! Fresh apricots? Yes, I think fresh apricots!

Italian Plums: It's a Tight Window for These Too

Dimply Plum Cake ♥ KitchenParade.com, a rustic cake topped with sweet Italian plums burrowed into a cardamom-sweet, citrus-scented batter. Recipe, tips, nutrition & WW points included.

One year, Facebook reminded me that I made a Dimply Plum Cake on the exact same day three years before! I had to laugh but really, it's no surprise.

That's because Italian plums, those small, dark, dusky and almost bruised-looking plums show up at the grocery store for just a couple of weeks in late August. Blink! And you'll miss them. Wait! And a few days later they'll be gone.

Stock up! Italian plums freeze beautifully, just remove the pits and freeze in a solid mass so there's no air/space between the plums where ice crystals can form. How do I know? Italian plums are a favorite filling for my family's fruit peroghies!

What about other plums? Their season is longer. Yes, I'd use other plums but would cut the larger plums into quarters.


    Just so you know, I personally select these items — and if you buy something through an Amazon link (just Amazon, no others), Kitchen Parade may earn a small commission, no extra cost to you. Every bit helps, so thank you! My Disclosure Promise

  • Baking: From My Home to Yours by the beloved Dorie Greenspan is a real treasure, a compendium of approachable recipes for home baking. Dorie's recipes are super reliable, I love her work.
  • Desserts by Pierre Herme Once upon a time, I was on a conference call with Dorie, she's just as nice in real life as in her many cookbooks. On the call, I told her about buying the French-pastry cookbook she wrote with/for Pierre Herme. It's totally not home-cook friendly – all the recipes have multiple steps over multiple days. But it still infected me with the baking bug and made me a forever-fan of Dorie Greenspan. We shared a nice laugh over that ...


A rustic plum cake to bring dimples to your cheeks
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time-to-table: 90 minutes
Makes 1 8x8 or 9x9 cake to serve about 9
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (72g) vegetable oil (see TIPS)
  • Grated citrus zest (see TIPS)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • About 1 pound (450g) Italian plums (preferably), halved and pits removed
  • Raw sugar, for sprinkling over the plums
  • Swedish Cream (recipe below), for serving, optional

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Butter or spray an eight- or nine-inch square pan.

WET INGREDIENTS With an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl on medium-low speed for 3 minutes. (Why so long? You're adding air to the butter, be sure to scrape the beaters when they become coated with butter.) Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs, beating for 1 minute after each. Beat in the oil, zest and vanilla, just until mixed in.

DRY INGREDIENTS In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. (If you're using a stand mixer, it's easy to do this while the mixer is working away on the butter, sugar and eggs.)

Turn the flour mixture into the large bowl. On low speed, mix in the flour, just until mixed, a few floury bits are fine. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, mixing in any loose flour.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, it's thick, you may need something like an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan and into the corners.

FINISH Arrange the plum halves decoratively (diagonal rows are especially pretty, I think), cut-side up and at a slight angle, completely filling the entire top with fruit. Once all the plums are in place, press each one gently to settle it into the cake batter but do not submerge. Sprinkle the plums tops with raw sugar, just a light coating.

BAKE Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes (35 minutes is perfect in my oven for an 8x8 pan) or until the top is honey-colored and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake, if it does, the cake can be a little dry.

To serve warm, let cool for 15 minutes, slice and serve with Swedish Cream if you like.

To serve cool, just let cool right in the pan and slice when you're ready! If the cake lasts more than a day, I'd recommend covering tightly and refrigerating. Dorie says the cake doesn't freeze well.

  • OIL Dorie suggests a neutral oil such as canola or safflower, I always use a clear vegetable oil like Crisco. Be sure the oil is fresh, just give it a sniff. I've learned to buy vegetable oil in small bottles because they get a little off quite quickly. By the way, "neutral oil" is what recipe writers call what are essentially flavorless oils. That means that the olive oil we normally use for cooking is probably not a good choice, it has too much flavor. That said, I love using a light, fruity olive oil for this cake, especially one of the citrus oils from O Olive Oil [not sponsored, just a product I've been using for years].
  • CITRUS ZEST Dorie suggests orange zest, I use orange but also lime and lemon. All add brightness!
  • FLOUR I'm slowly converting to 100% white whole wheat flour, a whole grain flour that acts, mostly, like all-purpose. It worked beautifully here but so does all-purpose.
  • PARCHMENT This is an easy cake to just leave in the pan but it's also an impressive enough for a cake stand for a dessert buffet, a brunch coffeecake. In order to lift the cake out of the baking pan, before baking, line the baking pan with parchment (spray the pan first, then the parchment too), enough so the parchment hangs over the sides. Bake, let the cake cool completely and then lift out onto a cake stand.
  • CHANGES TO DORIE's RECIPE I use salted butter for baking, always. If you use unsalted butter, add 1 teaspoon table salt instead of 1/4 teaspoon. Dorie uses just 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, I use a full teaspoon, it makes the cake "spice-forward" in a way I really love. Most of all, I use more fruit than Dorie calls for. Really pack in the plums, cover the entire pan, butting the plum halves right up against one another. They'll shrink in the oven, you'll still see cake in between. I also sprinkle the plums with a little raw sugar, this helps them cook and soften in the oven without overbaking the cake itself.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes 9: 307 Calories; 15g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 63mg Cholesterol; 238mg Sodium; 38g Carb; 1g Fiber; 21g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 7 & PointsPlus 8 & SmartPoints 13 & Freestyle 11


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time-to-table: 5 minutes

Whip 1/2 cup cream and 1 tablespoon sour cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/2 tablespoon sugar and a pinch of cardamom and whip until firm peaks form.

More Fruity Desserts

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Blueberry Cake Rhubarb Cake Fresh Apricot Bars
~ more fruity dessert recipes ~

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous9/10/2008

    Beautiful photo and a wonderful recipe I look forward to making. I love the idea of an edible landscape. I've tried with herb gardens which are quite fun and kind of complicated. Some results I've seen (not mine!) have been beautiful.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna