“This plum torte is both the most requested recipe in the Times archives,” wrote Amanda Hesser about this recipe that made its first appearance decades ago in Elegant But Easy, a cookbook by The New York Times journalist Marion Burros. Hesser goes on to surmise that the recipe’s popularity among readers is likely due to the ingredients being familiar, the instructions calling for just a handful of steps, and no special equipment or fancy baking skills. Not only is the dessert not overly fussy, it’s not overly sweet, and it’s not at all intimidating to make.–David Leite

Plum Torte FAQs

What are Italian plums?

Italian plums, also referred to as Italian prune plums are much smaller and darker than plums grown in the US. They have an oblong egg shape and are about the size of a large strawberry.

What should I serve with this Italian plum torte?

This easy cake can be served as is, or with a little cream or ice cream spooned over the top.

A purple plum torte with dripping juice on a baking pan, all on a cooling wrap.

Plum Torte

4.88 / 33 votes
This plum torte is the most requested recipe from The New York Times. And with good reason. An easy yet elegant way to indulge in summer that’s made with a handful of everyday pantry ingredients.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories272 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, or more or less, depending on the tartness of the plums
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 Italian purple plums, halved and pitted, or 6 red plums, pitted and sliced into thick wedges
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or more or less, depending on the tartness of the plums
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl with a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar until light in color, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the dry ingredients and then the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until combined.
  • Spoon the batter into the pan. Cover the top of the batter with the plum halves or wedges, skin side up.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the lemon juice, adjusting the amount to the tartness of the fruit. Sprinkle with the cinnamon.
  • Bake the plum torte until the cake is golden and the plums are bubbly, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack, then unmold.
The Essential New York Times Cookbook

Adapted From

The Essential New York Times Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 272 kcalCarbohydrates: 37 gProtein: 4 gFat: 13 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 0.5 gCholesterol: 77 mgSodium: 25 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 24 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe © 2010 Amanda Hesser. Photo © 2010 Andrew Scrivani. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Everyone who tried this plum torte proclaimed, “MMMMmmm!” It was a big hit! The plums were beautifully tart and the cake was moist and sweet. One of my testers who “doesn’t like plums” loved it and lapped it up. Definitely a keeper.

It was fast and easy to put together.

I used about 5 red plums. Normally for a plum tart, my instinct would be to use prune plums, but I couldn’t find them at the grocery store, so I used the large round red plums. They were delicious when cooked! I cut them into small wedges and placed them in concentric circles. It looked beautiful!

I didn’t use the lemon juice. My plums were quite tart and I’m glad I decided to omit it because the final torte had the perfect balance of sweet and tart.

I sprinkled the cinnamon and sugar on the tart as instructed, but I think next time I will mix the cinnamon and sugar together and then sprinkle it as it would look nicer. The brown cinnamon on top isn’t super appealing. I think it would be great with any kind of fruit you have on hand, so it’s worth keeping this recipe on hand for the summer.

This is the first plum dessert I’ve ever made. Which is kind of surprising as I am married to someone who LOVE plums. And this dessert will without question be made again. It was shockingly easy.

Even with cutting and pitting the plums, it may have taken me only 15 minutes to assemble the dessert. It was golden brown with bubbling fruit when I took it out of the oven. And it smelled heavenly. We had it for dessert last night and we both were so excited at how delicious this was! Its appearance is rustic. I wouldn’t say it’s a pretty dessert. But it’s beautiful in its own way.

I CRAMMED as much fruit as I could in the pan but simply could not fit more than 6 plums in there. I sprinkled the cinnamon through a sieve and half a teaspoon more covered the whole torte. More than that would have been bitter.

That said, I loved the end result and will happily make this again!

This plum torte will forever be a part of my summer dessert rotation! We ate the plum torte when it was still warm from the oven and it was delicious on its own. However, I especially enjoyed the leftover cake refrigerated and topped with light vanilla yogurt!

It was a perfect use for 8 rock hard plums. I was worried that they wouldn’t soften up but after 55 minutes of baking they were perfectly soft. (I also needed to use 2 total tablespoons of sugar on top of the plums because they were so underripe and tart.)

After I made this, I was thinking about the fun variations I can try in the future. I’m looking forward to trying the recipe with apricots next time.

This might be my new favorite plum cake! It really is that good. Perfect for after dinner, as an afternoon snack, or breakfast.

I don’t have a 9-inch springform pan so I simply used parchment paper to line a regular 9-inch pan and then just lifted it right out. Worked perfectly!

Worth noting that my plums were on the small side and I was just able to fit them in so if you have bigger plums, you might need to get creative. Either way, it will be delicious! The plums were perfect, in my book, so I omitted the lemon juice and only used 1/2 cup sugar.

We love this Italian plum torte.

Measuring out the ingredients, preparing the plums, and following the method took just 20 minutes. We used 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, as our beautiful plums were not quite as flavorful as we had hoped.

After baking for 45 minutes, the plums looked jammy, bubbling, and ready, but upon testing showed a pretty gloppy interior so we baked it another 7 minutes. All the while the house was filled with the scent of a cinnamony-plum-cake baking goodness. As the cake baked, bits of batter puffed up beautifully around the plums.

This is a delicious, quick summer cake. We don’t know why it is called a torte instead of a cake or cobbler, but it doesn’t matter one whit. Served warmed with a bit of cream or ice cream, or just as is, this dessert is a delight.

Using ingredients you typically have in your house, this plum torte recipe is simple and fast to put together. The batter is versatile, as the plums can be swapped out for another stone fruit. The hardest part is waiting for the long bake time and for the torte to cool once it’s out of the oven, but it’s definitely worth it.

The torte is delicious by itself, but pairing it with some whipped cream or ice cream takes it to the next level.

A simple and delicious recipe. The torte came out wonderfully moist and just sweet enough.

I substituted 1 1/2 cups of blueberries for the plums and eliminated the lemon juice. The texture of my batter resembled pate choux dough and I spread it with a spatula until it was an inch thick, and it continued to spread and fill the pan once it was in the oven. You can get 8 to 10 servings out of this, but likely you’ll hand out seconds, so don’t plan on feeding more than 4 to 6 people.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely love this torte. I often make it with blackberries. Would it be possible to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper so that I could remove the cooked torte more easily when cooked?
    This is my go to cooking site. Thank you for sharing your recipes.


    1. Thanks, Betty. Blackberries would be divine in this torte. We haven’t tried lining the pan with parchment, but I presume it would work fine.

  2. 5 stars
    Love the recipe. Can it be doubled? If so, should I use a larger springform pan or would a larger flan pan work? Thanks for you input

    1. We haven’t tried doubling it AG, and I’d be hesitant to suggest it. I think you’ll run into difficulty from the amount of liquid from the plums. To be safe, I’d recommend making two separate tortes.