Plum Almond Cake

This plum almond cake, an Italian dessert known as Torta di Prugne e Mandorle, is easy to make from scratch with flour, almond meal, sugar, butter, lemon, and plums. Addictively delicious.

This plum almond cake is an Italian classic. While we’ve got nothing against homey, which is what author Domenica Marchetti dubs this dessert, we think this lovely little looker of a cake has a little haute going on, too. She prefers how this simple cake “celebrates September, when farmers’ markets are overflowing with small, dark Italian plums,” but quite frankly, we keep this recipe handy all summer long and make it with whatever variety of plums we happen to find. Just wait’ll you taste the delicate-crumbed cake interspersed with pockets of plums, which turn jammy as they bake. We’re a little wobbly in the knees just thinking about it.Renee Schettler Rossi

Plum Almond Cake

A slice of plum almond cake on a brown ceramic plate.
This plum almond cake, an Italian dessert known as Torta di Prugne e Mandorle, is easy to make from scratch with flour, almond meal, sugar, butter, lemon, and plums. Addictively delicious.
Domenica Marchetti

Prep 25 mins
Cook 1 hr 5 mins
Total 1 hr 30 mins
Dessert
Italian
10 to 12 servings
343 kcal
4.74 / 19 votes
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Equipment

  • 8- or 9-inch (20- or 23-cm) springform pan

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup sunflower or other mild vegetable oil plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour (you can find this almost anywhere these days, even at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 7 to 9 plums (any variety) halved and pitted but not peeled
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature

Directions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly oil an 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Dust the pan with flour and tap out any excess.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, half-and-half (or milk, if using), lemon juice and zest, the 1 cup (8 ounces) sugar, and the almond extract until thoroughly combined. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk just until combined.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the plum halves, cut side up, atop the batter. In a bowl, combine the almonds, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and the butter and mix well. Dot the almond topping over the cake.
  • Bake the cake until the surface is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. (If using an 8-inch pan, you may need to bake it longer, being careful to cover the outer edges of the cake with a strip of foil if they begin to brown.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the ring from the pan and place the cake on a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve warm or, if you can wait, at room temperature.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 343kcal (17%)Carbohydrates: 38g (13%)Protein: 5g (10%)Fat: 20g (31%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 26mg (9%)Sodium: 72mg (3%)Potassium: 233mg (7%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 26g (29%)Vitamin A: 280IU (6%)Vitamin C: 4mg (5%)Calcium: 84mg (8%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Delicious and beautiful. Homey and brilliant. The flavors of this plum almond cake blend remarkably well together and the cake is beautiful studded with the plums. I couldn’t find Italian plums so I just used the wonderful black plums from the farmers’ market. The fruit made the cook time a little challenging, as it kept the batter around the sliced plums very moist. I cooked the cake for 5 minutes longer than suggested. The only thing I would change is to increase the amount of the almond topping; I loved the contrast in textures it lent to the cake—I just wanted more of it! I really preferred this cake slightly warm. Simply beautiful and superb!

The plum almond cake was very good with its nice, delicate crumb topping and very appealing, almost buttery taste, although there was no butter used in the batter. I used fairly ripe, but not overly ripe, plums. They were rather tart so the next time I make this cake I will let them get a bit more ripe or I will try to find Italian plums. My plums were larger than Italian plums, so I only needed 7 plums halved, rather than 9, to cover the top of my cake. I didn’t have an 8-inch springform pan, so I used a regular 8-inch cake pan. I made a parchment round for the bottom of the pan hoping that this would help me get the cake out of the pan. The cake took exactly 45 minutes to bake. I probably should have let it cool for more than 20 minutes before taking it out of the pan, because it did break a bit when I removed it.

This plum almond cake highlights the delicious combination of plums and almonds. What I thought would be the tricky part of the recipe was finding almond meal, and that concern disappeared when I found that Trader Joe’s sells it—and at a great price! What ended up being tricky was pitting the plums. I used a combination of red and black plums and found that the ripe ones were easier to pit but that the skin easily separated from the flesh and the flesh ended up being smooshed. The slightly unripe plums were easier to halve because they were firmer but getting the pit out of them required a knife and the end result wasn’t very pretty. Once baked, the plums that ended up getting a bit mangled in the process released a lot of their juices into the cake batter since the skins weren’t completely intact. Not a big deal, especially if the cake is eaten that day. By day two, the cake was soggy but still delicious. The topping adds a great additional crunchy texture and would be better showcased with a wider pan. If you use an 8-inch pan, make sure it has high sides (3 inches) and consider covering the edges with foil once it browns so you can get the center to bake for a bit longer.

Originally published August 20, 2018

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Comments

  1. Hi and thanks for this recipe. The web page is interesting and inviting. Today I tried this recipe using rye flour ( I prefer using organic, non-wheat flour). For more flavour I macerated the plums for 1 hour in a bit of rum, lemon juice, zest, cinnamon and sugar. They leave a thick juice which is nice to top the cake with after is baked. Is the base of the cake supposed to come out fluffy? Because mine didn’t. It came out soft but rather dense, like a pudding. Good flavour though, the soft base with the tangy plums and crispy almonds on top. Will make again but probably be using a lighter flour.

    1. Hi Laura, yes, I think that your flour is the culprit. You might try a GF baking mix if you are trying to avoid wheat. Thanks for the compliments!

  2. 4 stars
    Okay, so I had some issues with the cake. Firstly, I could not cut the plums in half and pit them with any ease. The plums all squashed, the juices ran out and it was impossible to get proper plum halves into the batter. I also used buttermilk as I didn’t have milk. Secondly, my topping all sank to the bottom. The cake was delicious and baked just fine however. Also, I used coconut oil instead of regular oil. Delish!

    1. Hi Ariel,
      Sorry your plums did not cooperate. I like David’s idea of briefly freezing them. It also depends on the type of plum you used. Some are easier to split in half than others. The Italian prune plums called for in the recipe are usually pretty easy to separate. And yes, coconut oil would definitely change the consistency and affect the way the cake bakes, as it is heavier than sunflower or vegetable oil. I actually like the idea of adding a bit of coconut flavor, so I may have to try your variation. At any rate, I’m glad you were happy with the way it tasted. Cheers, D

    2. Hey, Ariel. Cutting plums, or any ripe stone fruit, can be difficult. One trick I use is to place them in the freezer–not until frozen!!–but until just firm enough to halve. Also, the substitution of the buttermilk for the milk and the coconut oil for the regular oil could have impacted the results. They all contain different fat contents, and you might have thrown off the delicate chemistry, found in all baked goods, by the swap outs. But I’m glad you enjoyed it. It truly is a delicious cake, just right for the season!

  3. 5 stars
    Here I am, after cooking yet another recipe found on Leite’s Culinaria. I have yet to make anything from this site that has not turned out spectacular, tasted wonderful, and quickly printed for addition to my favorite recipe folder. This recipe is no different. I will definitely make this again. And again.

  4. 5 stars
    This looked like a perfect cake to finish off a Tuscan inspired meal. However, I didn’t have sunflower oil, but thought olive oil might work rather well. Then, when I realized I had doubled the required amount of milk, I thought it an excellent idea to double the entire recipe and make one cake with plums and the other with cherries. Both came out wonderfully delicious!

  5. Alas, I came across this recipe half an hour too late! I had some plums that needed to be used, so I went and made Marion Burros’ Purple Plum Torte — which is delicious, but it would have been great to be able to try out a new recipe. Oh well, all the more reasons to buy more plums next week!

    1. An, we’re looking forward to hearing from you when you’ve a new supply of plums. (I, like you, am always seeking new excuses to splurge on plums at the greenmarket…)

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