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.–David Leite

A whole plum almond cake on a plate with one wedge cut from it.

Plum Almond Cake FAQs

What are the best type of plums to use for this Italian almond cake?

Italian prune plums are traditionally used here, but our testers found that any ripe plums that you can find will work well.

How should this cake be stored?

The cake can be stored, covered in plastic, at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, cool completely, wrap well in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

A slice of plum almond cake on a brown ceramic plate.

Plum Almond Cake

4.80 / 25 votes
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.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineItalian
Servings10 to 12 servings
Calories343 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes

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

Instructions 

  • 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.
Rustic Italian Cookbook

Adapted From

Rustic Italian

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 343 kcalCarbohydrates: 38 gProtein: 5 gFat: 20 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 26 mgSodium: 72 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 26 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Domenica Marchetti. Photo © 2011 Maren Caruso. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This Italian almond cake is 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 Italian 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.




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




72 Comments

  1. Hello, any thoughts re berries instead of plums. We love cakes with almond flour but I don’t have a berry one on hand. I wonder if blue, black, and raspberries would work here. I will try but sure would be helpful if there are any actual results or experienced suggestions to offer. This batter could likely hold some within and some scattered on top.

    1. Den, none of us has made it with berries, but some of our readers have. The trick will be to make sure to use the same amount/weight of fruit, which is 14 to 16 ounces.

  2. 5 stars
    Such a wonderful recipe. I’ve made it at least 20 times, sometimes with plums but also with apples, peaches, apricots and various berries. Today I made it with strawberries, subbing the lemon for orange. Unless the fruit is very tart I don’t always bother tossing the flaked almonds with sugar and butter and instead just scatter them over raw.

    1. Fantastic, Erin! We’re delighted you enjoy this recipe so much and we love all the variations.

  3. 5 stars
    I misread the recipe and omitted the oil (although I used half and half not milk), and the texture was still great. Also used lemon peel only (more subtle flavor), and sprinkled turbinado sugar and almonds on top (laziness).