Plum cake (Kέικ με δαμάσκηνα)

A fragrant and delicately spiced Italian plum cake


A year after marrying, one of us bought a house in the city.  Our new home came with a finished wood-paneled basement, a kitchen with original cabinetry (which we have yet to get rid of by the way) and a bathroom with baby blue and pale pink tiles cemented onto the walls, to match the blue bathtub and toilet, of course.  We love our home, and love that despite being in an urban area, we have a backyard that is large enough to have accommodated baby pools and sandboxes, gardens, football games, badminton nets, gangs of people during Greek Easter, and most recently a spa. That is not to say that outdoor living was always easy however, and here’s why.

Although large, our backyard is certainly not expansive the way our parents’ yard is, a fact that was perhaps lost on our father. A few weeks after settling into our new home, we returned to work and during an afternoon call to our parents our mother mentioned that our dad had gone over to the house to drop something off.  How sweet, we thought.  They knew how busy we were and decided to let themselves in to bring over supper; maybe a tray of yemista, or husband’s absolute favourite, spaghetti with meat sauce!  How lucky that our parents lived close by!

When we got home, famished, we entered the kitchen and saw nothing more than a small bag of koulourakia on the counter.  And then, out the kitchen window, which overlooked our back yard we saw our dad, and what was the real reason for his popping by. A plum tree.  An actual plum tree that he took it upon himself to plant, pretty much right in the middle of our large enough, but not huge, yard.  He was very pleased with himself, and asked us if we loved our housewarming present.  We told him we did (we weren’t sure that we did), but that perhaps it would be better to move the tree so that it was off to the side, or in a corner, by the fence. We also may have mumbled that it would have been better if he had brought over new kitchen towels, or a toaster.

He shrugged, and said that we could move the tree if we preferred, but that he had planted his present where it was so that it would have the space to grow freely, so that we would be able to see it through our kitchen window while washing the dishes (couldn’t even make that up!), and so that when it was full of ripe Italian plums we would have the space to walk around it to pick the delicious, delectable fruit easily.  Against all logic, we understood his logic, and kept the plum tree where we found it.

As the years passed and our plum tree grew, it obviously took up more and more space.  Backyard designing, decorating and outdoor activities revolved around that tree, sometimes quite literally.   Every year we contemplated cutting it down, but whenever we talked about it we would say, …but Ba planted that tree, and we would remember how proud he was to offer what he clearly considered to be the perfect gift. And, every spring it flowered so much that we knew it would produce the richest plum harvest – we didn’t have the heart to give that up.  That tree was so fruitful (pun totally intended) that we supplied plums to our neighbors by the bagful, we made plum jam, we froze plums to use in smoothies and in baking, and of course, we ate them right off the tree, easily.

And then, after many years of toying with the idea of chopping the tree down, the decision was made for us. Our plum tree started to grow black nodules all over the trunk and branches, the leaves didn’t look right and it wasn’t producing much fruit at all; our plum tree was sick, and dying, and it was time to say good-bye. As hubby went out with an ax and a saw, you would think that we would be relieved, finally, to free up some precious outdoor real estate. But the truth is, we were a little bit sad. We reminisced about picnics under that tree, and how our daughters would carry their toys to the blanket spread out under it, in order to escape the hot afternoon sun. We remembered how our girls would pluck the fruit from the tree as they sat on their dad’s shoulders, and how much they loved the sweet, warm taste of the freshly picked fruit. We also recalled how proud our dad was of his gift to us, one that he offered with only good intentions and a bounty of love, and in a way which was entirely his own.  It’s been a few years since the plum tree was cut down and still today, when we stand by the sink washing the dishes, we can’t help but think that something is missing.


Helpful hints

Can we use any plum variety for this cake?

We think that this cake is most wonderful with Italian plums, sometimes called prune plums. These are the plums that grew on our tree (and which still grow on the plum trees in our parents large yard!) and they are in currently in season and wonderful. If you can’t find Italian plums you can ask our dad to come over and plant a tree for you, or you can use another variety of small plum.

Do I peel the plums for this cake?

Nope, no peeling required. Actually, peeling is not even recommended. Wash your plums well, remove the stem if there is one, and the pit. Chop in half or in quarters as directed in the recipe, depending on how large your plums are.

Pin this recipe if you like it!


Looking for other great cake recipes? Here you go:

Greek yogourt cake with lemon

Marble cake

Revani with coconut

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Plum cake (Kέικ με δαμάσκηνα)

A fragrant and delicately spiced plum cake
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: plum cake, cake, dessert, plums, summer cake,
Servings: 1 cake
Author: Mia Kouppa

Equipment

  • Stand mixer or hand held mixer
  • 9 inch spring form pan or 9 inch round cake pan

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour or 225 grams
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder or 3 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda or 2. 5 grams
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or 3 grams
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 gram
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or 1 gram
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar or 200 grams
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or 125 ml
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 5 ml
  • 1/4 cup orange juice or 60 ml
  • 8-10 ripe plums, washed and cut in half or quartered we use Italian plums
  • 1 tbsp sugar, for sprinkling on top of cake or 12 .5 grams
  • vegetable oil for greasing pan

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and set rack in middle position
  • Combine your flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger and salt in a medium sized bowl. Whisk until well combined and then set aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in another bowl if you will be using a hand held mixer) combine the eggs with the sugar. Beat at medium speed for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is a pale yellow colour. Slowly pour in the oil and then add the vanilla extract. Beat until well combined.
  • With the mixer set to low, slowly add in half of the flour mixture. Then add in the orange juice. Once everything is incorporated, add the rest of the flour. Mix until just well combined.
  • Grease a 9 inch spring form pan or round cake pan with some vegetable oil, and pour the batter into the pan. It will be thick.
  • Arrange the plums on top of your batter with the skin side up in a circular pattern as shown in picture above. Use enough plums so that most of the batter is covered.
  • Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar on top of the batter and plums. Don't skip this step, it adds great texture and flavour.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the cake is golden and set.
  • Remove from the oven. If you are using a spring form pan, slowly go around the edge of the cake with a knife to loosen it from the sides. Release the sides of the spring form pan from the pan base slowly and lift off. If using a regular cake pan, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and then remove from pan by flipping it onto a wire rack. Then flip your cake over again as you want your plums and the sugar coating to be on top.
  • Let cool on wire rack.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

This cake is great even few days later.  No need to refrigerate. 
 


2 thoughts on “Plum cake (Kέικ με δαμάσκηνα)

    1. Hi Magda! You can’t imagine how much your message means to us! We really appreciate you being here, taking the time to read our posts, recipes and to comment. It warms our hearts to know we are reaching people even as far away as Australia! Sending you good wishes all the way from Montreal Canada : ) Helen & Billie

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