This delectable cake has a venerable history. When Amanda Hesser, former editor of the New York Times food section, began compiling recipes to create the very marvellous The Essential New York Times Cookbook, she asked for suggestions from readers as to what should be included. This recipe topped the list with 247 requests that it be included. With good reason. It’s stunningly good. Dead easy to make, too, with only 8 ingredients.

I came across it when looking for a way to use up some purple plums I had hanging around after making Spiced Plum Skillet Cake, and it popped up on Smitten Kitchen’s website. First published in the New York Times by Marian Burros in 1983, the recipe had been given to her by Lois Levine, with whom she co-authored  Elegant but Easy. I told you it had a venerable history. It’s some good cake!

The batter is deceptively simple, almost like a pancake batter. The magic is in the oozing purple pockets of plum juice, seeping into a deliciously moist cake.

If you can stand waiting, it’s best the second day. But who can wait?

purple plum torte recipe


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Purple Plum Torte

A scrumptious and moist plum cake oozing with jammy plum goodness.


  • 1 c (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 g) baking powder
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 c (200 g) granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tbsp (depending on sweetness of plums)
  • to sprinkle on top
  • 1/2 c (115 g or 8 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 smallish purple Italian plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F or 325°F Convection.
  2. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cream the butter and 1 c sugar together in a large bowl with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  3. Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Cover the batter with the plums, arranged skin side up. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, cinnamon, then the remaining sugar.
  4. Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter (about 45 to 50 minutes). Some plum juice may cling to your testing toothpick – that’s fine.
  5. Cool on rack.


  • Feel free to grease & flour the springform pan if you’re concerned, but it’s not necessary.

I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.