Plum Torte

This plum torte, made with a handful of everyday pantry ingredients, is the most requested recipe from The New York Times. And with good reason. An easy yet elegant way to indulge in summer.

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

“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.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Plum Torte

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8

Special Equipment: 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan

5/5 - 7 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Essential New York Times Cookbook cookbook

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Ingredients

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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz), 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

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
  • 2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • 3. In a large bowl with a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar until light in color, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • 4. Add the dry ingredients and then the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until combined.
  • 5. Spoon the batter into the pan. Cover the top of the batter with the plum halves or wedges, skin side up.
  • 6. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the lemon juice, adjusting the amount to the tartness of the fruit. Sprinkle with the cinnamon.
  • 7. Bake the plum torte until the cake is golden and the plums are bubbly, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack, then unmold. Originally published October 24, 2010.

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 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.

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 did not use the lemon juice. My plums were quite tart and I'm glad I decided to omit it because the final tart 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.

This is the first plum dessert I have 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 spelled heavenly. We had it for dessert last night and we both were so excited at how delicious this was! It's appearance is rustic. I wouldn't say it's a pretty dessert. But it is 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 than 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 is a torte that will forever be a part of my summer dessert rotation! We ate the 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 bake time 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 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 a test into the dough showed a pretty gloppy dough, so we baked 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.

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Comments

  1. Delicious easy cake. I used two different plums, no Italian available. I used half dark colored and half lighter. The darker plums were sweeter and held up better, hands down Agree with others saying that the cake surrounding the juicer plums was wet and slightly under baked. However, if I had kept in in the oven any longer it would have been over done and potentially burnt. Next time will use the darker less juicy plum. Choosing the right fruit is crucial. Excellent recipe thanks.

  2. I have made this recipe dozens of times, with plums, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and apricots. They all work splendidly. (Not strawberries, though, they release too much moisture.) I recall the ENDLESS debates in the pages of the New York Times food section on “skin side up” or “skin side down” for the plums. My anseer: “IT DOES NOT MATTER!”- the cake rises, the fruit sinks. You cannot tell the difference. I also recall that the Times published it for five years in a row, after it first came out, in late summer, during plum season, due to popular demand. The last time, they published the recipe in extra large print, as if to say, “The heck with all of you: clip it, save it, we’ve had enough”.

  3. This is my go to recipe every year when Toigo Orchards shows up with their beautiful plums at the farmers market. The last time I used this recipe I did it with peaches, nectarines and plum. Always amazing.

  4. My go-to easy, tasty, impressive-looking morning pastry or evening dessert with ice cream, since I saw in the NYT book. I added sliced other hard fruit (peaches, cherries?) if short of plums and it works great. I’ve added a 10″ springform pan with parchment paper (easy circle to trace) to make serving neat.

  5. My, this was easy to put together. I could only manage 5 red plums
    I added a touch of vanilla and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top,
    It took 60 minutes and was delicious
    11-year-old approval.
    Scoop of vanilla ice cream and served warm
    Thank you for a new family favorite!!

  6. This is the third time I have made this torte with Italian prune plums on sale at .99 a pound. It is superb, just the right amount of sweetness in the cake to balance the tartness of the fresh fruit. It looks fabulous when it comes out of the oven, it’s great to bring as a dessert, it’s so easy- just a few simple ingredients. I sift the dry mixture right over the bowl of the creamed butter/sugar mix, add some vanilla extract or almond extract, grate some lemon peel – that’s it, done. I use turbinado sugar on top because I like the crunch and I love the color the cinnamon gives the torte. Such a simple recipe to produce such a lovely cake. (I know, its a torte, but this torte by any other name is still a tasty cake). I have baked it for 50 minutes as some sites say to do, and one hour as the NYTimes recipe states with great results so I think it depends on the juiciness of the fruit. Just a great recipe (and I can’t resist licking the batter bowl).

  7. I’ve been making Marian Burros’ Plum Torte since it first appeared in the NY Times. It is delicious, easy, enjoyed by all and in February when I take one out of the freeze, it is even more enjoyable, if at all possible. It is truly a wonderful cake.

    1. Having sampled many a Plum Torte, Louise, I am astounded that you can manage to save one until February! Perhaps I need to up my willpower, since a midwinter plum dessert sounds like the best treat imaginable.

  8. Have just made and eaten this cake – and am now full & happy. Excellent recipe, couldn’t be more simple and shows off the fresh plums from my tree to their best advantage!

  9. Just made this great cake, not tasted it yet, but it looks so much like the one I have, which has a crumb topping, and is spread on a cookie sheet. Thought this would be a nice change but still used the prune plumbs. Thanks!

  10. Wish I’d had the foresight to read through all the comments before baking this torte. I agree with the poster who commented that the batter is more like pate a choux than pancake batter. Mine was so thick (I used large eggs) that I added another egg just to be able to spread it. I cooked it about 10 minutes more than suggested in the directions. Italian plums were not available so I used 8 regular black plums. It’s out of the oven now and looks pretty good. Hope it tastes as good as everyone says!!

  11. A big winner in our house – there were no Italian plums, so the usual purples did just fine. Pears were a little too watery. I am excited to try the blueberry. This is a keeper :)

  12. This sounds delish! I make a plum kuchen that is similar to this and I love it. I cannot wait to try this. Yum yum for the plum :)

  13. Isn’t it wonderful to have such a splendid recipe in your repertoire? Please let us know about your fruit variations.

    Beth Price
    Director of Recipe Testing

  14. I ran to my computer after hearing Amanda Hessar on NPR talking about her new book, “The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century.” Next I ran out to get the plums. I couldn’t find Italian plums so I used standard purple plums which weren’t very tasty. It didn’t matter. The torte was spendid and was quick. lt was devoured by my husband, son, and me. I don’t make desserts often, but I will be making this one again and again experimenting with different fruits.

  15. Just a quick note to say that I make this recipe all the time. I use anything from Plums to peaches to blueberries. It is a fantastic receipe.

  16. I made this last weekend and it was a big hit with my cake-hating husband. He loved it so much he refused to call it a cake just to keep his prejudice intact. I told him it was a torte not a cake, which sparked more debate because my son insisted it tasted like pie. Well, it doesn’t really matter does it? It was extremely easy to make and it tasted inexplicably super delicious despite its few simple ingredients. Now I’m really convinced that Leite’s does not post recipes that are less than excellent. Thanks a lot and keep the recipes coming!

    1. First, I’m thrilled that your husband enjoyed the cake so much–even though he doesn’t look fondly upon them! Second, thank you kindly for your warm words about LC. We really do test every recipe that goes on the blog, and it’s comments such as your that makes it all worth it!

    1. That would work. But My feeling is the batter is thick enough you won’t really need it—unless your pears are super, splendiferously juicy. Then toss in extra flour or cornstarch.

  17. I will try this recipe with pears! Should I coat the pears with powder sugar to prevent them from releasing too much juice? This will be good!

    1. Lan, sugar causes fruit to release liquid. Pears aren’t particularly juicy fruit, so I’d just plop them in. When you use really juicy fruit, it’s always best to toss them in flour; it helps absorb some of the moisture. But if you worked and studied at Lenôtre, something tells me you already know that!

  18. I have made this recipe countless times, always with Italian plums and as Amanda says, it is the perfect recipe. It is super easy to put together and never ever fails. The result is amazing for just a few simple ingredients. I have always wanted to try making it with other fruit but when plum season comes along they always win.

  19. Bookmarked! I love to bake with Italian plums in late summer and early fall. I love them with cardamom. Too bad I have about 10 months to wait before they come in season again!
    :)

    1. Depends on where you’re at, Mary. We did give consideration to the season before running this recipe, but we’ve seen some lovely purple plums lingering at the greenmarket and local stores in New York just this past weekend, so we decided to share the recipe, given how dearly NYT readers love it…

      1. Just read that Amanda Hesser tweeted about a typo in the book – use one teaspoon of cinnamon, not a tablespoon!

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