Colonial Kitchen // Plum Cake

Ah, plums. Truth be told, I'd never eaten one before making this recipe! I'm not much of a fruit person, though I probably should become one. Things to improve upon! I was delightfully surprised at how tasty the plums were, as I popped slices in my mouth while putting this cake together. They tasted even more wonderful when mixed with spices + butter... but I think that could be said about pretty much anything. There are lots of different plum cake recipes out and about in the world, but they all tend to involve lots of butter, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and almond extract. Tie them all together and voila! This delicious concoction. 

I've really been wanting to bake a cake. I was never very good at it growing up. To be honest, I was never very good at cooking anything. I tried quite a bit, often becoming discouraged. I'm not sure what changed... perhaps it was just maturation of my mind being able to comprehend recipes in a way it hadn't been able to before. I won't say I'm a professional because I've never had proper training, but cooking and I have become very close friends. No longer acquaintances, the kitchen and I now know each other well, and I can say that the more I bake + cook, the better I understand all recipes. They all seem to be about the same after a while. So while this is settling in your mind, remember that I was really terrible at baking cakes. They were always too dry. The next day it was like eating a pile of flour. And yet, I really wanted to bake one. I often like to cheat and make banana bread and then say it's cake. Not the same! So, plum cake it was. And it turned out really well!

Plum cake is actually a term that means any type of dried or fresh fruit cake. Hm! I didn't know that. This also goes for plum pudding. Because Colonial Kitchen focuses on the first American Colonies, and I also like to talk about my own personal genealogy, plum cakes in Britain (where my family is from) first popped up around the beginning of the 18th century. That's right around the time of colonization! Their "plum" cakes weren't so literal, meaning they probably used raisins and dried currants. The more I read, the more I began to notice that plum cakes are rather popular in England! There are many ways to make them, mixed in, tossed about. Today we are making our cake in the upside-down fashion!


  • 6-8 ripe plums, pitted and sliced 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest + juice of one naval orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs

RECIPE (for a 9-inch cake or 2 small cakes) // 

  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • If you haven't already done so, cut your plums in half and pit them. Slice the halves into thin slices. In a medium bowl, toss the plums with the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg until fully coated. 
  • In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, melt 1 stick of butter. Whisk gently until the butter has browned and begun to foam, about 2-4 minutes. You want the butter to give off a lovely, nutty scent. Pour this batter into your cake pan(s). If you are using two, make sure you evenly divide the butter between the two. Brush the sides of the pans as well. 
  • Arrange the plums in the bottom of each pan. If you want, you can make it more aesthetically pleasing. I sort of tossed them about and didn't make a design!
  • In a small bowl, combine the milk, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, and almond extract. In a second bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • In an electric mixer, beat together the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You want a nice yellow color! Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Slowly begin to incorporate the wet + dry mixtures. Add them in thirds, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. 
  • Spread the cake batter evenly over the plums and smooth over with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (of cake batter). Let cool for about 25 minutes before removing from the pans. 
  • Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

According to Tad, the best way to eat cake is shirtless! He'd tell you that's the best way to do anything. Lately this child never wants any clothing on his body!! I am glad that I got cake making off of my brain. I was reminded why I'm not a fan of baking them... too many dirty dishes! Though, the end result was really quite wonderful so I would make this again in a heartbeat. Probably more so for a special occasion or a friend coming over to visit. Also, if you've never used a juicer for orange/lemon/lime juice in recipes, I highly recommend!!! It changed my whole process. I hope you enjoy! (:

xoxo Kayla