There’s only one plum cake worth making in this world and that’s The New York Times‘s most popular recipe of all time: Marion Burros’ Plum Torte. It’s one of those magical recipes where you think there’s so little going into it, it can’t possibly be that great — you basically make a pancake batter and drop some plums into it — but then the torte comes out of the oven and you feel like Escoffier himself.
The thing is: when I first made this plum torte, I made it with the wrong kinds of plums. The original recipe calls for prune plums, which are very narrow, and allow for maximum plum-age: the recipe calls for 10 to 12 of them halved lengthwise. When I first did it, I used normal purple plums and couldn’t fit all of the plums in. It wasn’t until my friend Cary came over last year with prune plums that I made the cake the right way.
But you know what? My original technique — using normal-sized plums — actually yields a better result if, and only if, you get lots of different kinds of plums with lots of different colors. On a recent trip to Cookbook in Echo Park, I picked up Green Gage plums and Santa Rosa plums (which are purple on the inside too) and made the most gorgeous plum cake I’ve made so far.
The cake takes less plums when you do it this way, but if it’s true that “you eat with your eyes first,” this cake is far tastier than the original version. Plus, this time around, I sprinkled on some pistachios to give it even more color and also flavor and texture.
The results were so dazzling, it felt like eating a firework on the fourth of July (and, funny enough, I served this on the fourth of July). So the next time you’re out of the house and you see plums of many colors (Joseph shoutout!) grab a bunch, come home, and make this cake. It takes no time at all and the results will have you go go go-ing back for more.
Multicolored Plum Cake with Pistachios
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted In this particular version, I did 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup AP flour, which worked great
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 6 to 7 multicolored plums, halved and pitted
- 1/2 cup green pistachios (out of the shell)
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a springform pan with softened butter. (I use a lot here, it makes the outside of the cake extra brown and toasty and helps it come out easily.)
- Now cream the 1/2 cup butter and 3/4 cups sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix just until combined. Pour into the prepared pan.
- Place in the plums, skin side up (I did the opposite here and it still worked). Sprinkle with the pistachios and a little more sugar.
- Bake one hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the sides, cool completely, and dust with powdered sugar right before serving.
Other Plum Cakes:
Almond Cake with Plums (Amateur Gourmet)
Plum Cake “Tatin” (Ina Garten, Food Network)
Plum Cake (Martha Stewart)
Olive Oil Plum Cake (NYT)
Purple Plum Torte (Smitten Kitchen)