Plum Cake

by Laura Silber

This moist and delicious dessert evolved from a Sunday New York Times Magazine recipe given to me by my Aunt Marian when I was 12 years old, and I have been baking variations on its theme steadily over the last 30 years. Plums are an underutilized fruit in American baking, and I find their surprisingly rich and pungent flavor in a sweet and tender vanilla cake incredibly addictive. A petite sugar-crisped version of the cake featured prominently on a summer menu of l’etoile in Edgartown when I worked as pastry chef there. The black plum version has been my single most requested dessert as a private chef over the last ten years.


  • Batter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter or non-dairy margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp. guar gum or 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • Fruit
  • 6-8 firm red or black plums
  • 1 pinch, granulated sugar
Plum Cake

Elizabeth Cecil

If there are any leftovers of the Plum Cake, wrap and store them in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the sugar and butter together. Then beat the eggs and add to the sugar and butter. Add the rest of the batter ingredients, paddle it, and mix with an electric mixer until it’s smooth.

Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan. Transfer the batter into pan.

Cut plums into thick slices and arrange in circular pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of the fruit.

Bake the tart at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tester comes out clean. The batter will expand to envelop the plums as the fruit sinks to bottom of pan. The top of the cake will brown nicely from the sprinkled sugar.

Cool and serve.