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No frosting, no ceremony

We left our window open last night, and when I woke up today, there was rain on the sill! I am wearing a scarf that I made! Let the hoarding of plums commence!

What I thought about saying next was, "The citrus is coming! The citrus is coming!" (In the privacy of my own head, I spout this kind of garbage the way Old Faithful does boiling water.) I decided against it, but during the thirty seconds when I was considering and then reconsidering, I remembered a walk I took with the dog a few weeks ago. A little boy down the street was having a birthday party, and from the skull-and-crossbones flags tied to the laurel hedge along the road, I gathered it was pirate-themed. There was some marauding role-playing going on in the yard as I passed by, lots of running and yelling, and from the other side of the hedge, I heard someone confess, "I don’t like to whip her, but I really need her to run fast, because the British are coming!"

Which would be alright with me, actually, because they make good plum cakes.

I’ve written about a lot of cakes over the years, but time and time again, the ones I return to are these: everyday cakes, no frosting, no ceremony. This particular example comes from Nigel Slater’s Tender, Volume II: A Cook’s Guide to the Fruit Garden, a tome if ever there was one. The thing weighs 3.8 pounds. I could probably spend a few years cooking only from Tender, and if anyone out there is looking for a project, well, my friend, there’s a whopper for you. The two volumes live on a special shelf next to my desk, and last week, that shelf was where I went when I found myself with several pounds of rapidly ripening plums from my friend Wynne at Jerzy Boyz Farm. We buy hundreds of pounds of fruit from her every year for the restaurant, and she’s taken to calling me "sweetie." She knows what I like.

Anyway, I had this box of plums, so I went to Nigel, and Nigel placed before me the words Pudding Cake of Honey, Cinnamon, and Plums. I think I could stop this post right here and you would know everything you need to know, but I will say just a little more, because as it turns out, this is going to be my new go-to cake. It’s a cinnamon spice cake with plums, and as the name implies, it’s dark and very tender - damp, as I once heard Nigella Lawson say. What’s particularly interesting is that it uses three kinds of sweetener: golden syrup, honey, and brown sugar. When I was making it, I was convinced that it was going to be a toothache-inducing mess, but I can now say with confidence: DON’T CHANGE A THING. The sweeteners each bring a different flavor, and together, they give the cake real depth and warmth. And the plums aren’t sweetened before they get dropped into the loose, caramel-colored batter, so they retain a nice sourness as they sink and soften.

This isn’t the kind of cake that you reserve for company; it’s a Tuesday-night sweet. It’s also a Wednesday-afternoon, coming-in-from-the-rain sweet. It is also, if you’re open to it, a totally reasonable breakfast. I don’t like to use the word perfect, because I am fickle, but I’ll say it here. I think this cake is perfect.

Happy fall.

P.S. I’ve fallen in love with the ease, speed, and accuracy of metric weight measurements, particularly in baking. From now on, the recipes I post here will use both cup and weight measures.

Nigel Slater’s Pudding Cake of Honey, Cinnamon, and Plums
Adapted from Tender, Volume II

My neighborhood grocery store carries golden syrup, and in general, I think it’s getting easier to find in the US every day. I usually keep a jar in the cabinet for making flapjacks. I didn’t have quite enough golden syrup for this cake recipe, so I added honey to make up the difference. Worked just fine.

2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 slightly heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 slightly heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pinches salt
2/3 cup (200 grams) golden syrup
2 Tbsp. honey
9 Tbsp. (125 grams) unsalted butter
¾ cup (125 grams) lightly packed brown sugar or light muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (240 ml) milk
5 (350 grams) ripe plums, pitted and quartered

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish, and line it with parchment paper. I like to cut the parchment so that it hangs over the edge of the pan: you can use it to help you lift the cake out later. There’s no need to grease the parchment.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk well.

In a saucepan, warm the golden syrup, honey, and butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter is melted, stir in the brown or muscovado sugar. Remove the pan from the heat, and set aside to cool for a minute or two.

Break the eggs into a medium bowl, add the milk, and whisk to mix.

Pour the golden syrup mixture into the flour mixture, and stir with a sturdy spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick at this point. Pour in the egg mixture, and continue to stir – it will resist incorporation and look weird at first – until you have a loose, almost sloppy batter without any traces of flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and then arrange the plums on top. (They will sink.) Bake for 35 minutes; then place a piece of foil loosely over the top of the cake, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more. The cake should look mostly set at this point, but it might still look the slightest bit soft in the center. That’s okay. Remove the piece of foil, turn off the oven, and leave the cake in there for another 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack. Cool for 20 minutes; then loosen the cake from the pan and lift it out onto the rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Note: This cake keeps beautifully at room temperature, and because it’s so incredibly moist, it’s actually best not to cover it too tightly, or else it can get gummy. So long as you eat it within 2 or 3 days, a piece of wax paper pressed against the cut surfaces is all you really need.

Yield: 8 servings - or maybe more.


Blogger Emily said...

i'm in need of a good kitchen scale...care to recommend yours?

5:08 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Emily, I have a Salter digital kitchen scale that I bought years ago, and the model isn't available anymore. But I highly recommend Salter as a brand.

5:15 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous http://thefinnishamericancook.blogspot.com/ said...

I just realized...I must have plumcake! I must. Thank You :-)

5:16 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Emily said...


5:18 PM, September 26, 2011  
OpenID themoveablefeasts said...

Yet another reminder that I need to make the switch to the kitchen scale.

Beautiful post! The cake sounds ... perfect. Also, I loved the story of the little boy at the pirate party.

5:22 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Sue/the view from great island said...

You had me at ripe plums and golden syrup. I am going to look up the book, thanks!

5:31 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger the starving student said...

More pictures!!! But it sounds delicious!

5:32 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Delyth from www.thedelicious.net said...

I also have both of Nigel Slater's Tender books, one of which I had delivered from the UK to Canada even though I am British and was going home to visit in a few weeks - I simply couldn't wait, although of course, you've guessed it, I didn't get it until I got back to Canada! I haven't cooked anything from the fruit volume yet, I just admire the photos and the incredible writing. I've made the chicken with sauteed celery from the vegetable version, but used young celery which resulted in chewing through string! The chicken was nice though.

5:35 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger deborah said...

Molly, I am so pleased that you'll be posting in metric weight measurements. It's the only way I cook really and cannot recommend it highly enough! The British are indeed, coming.

5:53 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Joy said...

That looks great.

5:54 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love fruit cakes like this. I can't see where it says what to do with the plums - chopped, sliced, halved?

5:54 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood said...

I have a Salter scale, too. Bought it just before I went to culinary school (if you want to know about that, here you go: "Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood" - http://amzn.to/oqXw1R ) and I agree, it makes baking miles easier. I also concur re: Slater - love the way he writes and cooks. And on Salter - great, stupid-easy scale. So. We are all in agreement. Now all I need are some plums!

6:12 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous anneliesz said...

And isn't cake on a Monday evening a great way to usher in the fall anyway? Three cheers on the sweeteners, recipes that admit perfection and giving plums their chance to shine.

6:22 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf said...

Ah, I love baking by weight as well. I use an OXO and I love it to pieces.

This cake looks amazing. There's something about fruity, pudding-like cakes I adore. I think it's the fact that it's best sans-frosting, as you said. :) Like good barbecue needs no sauce. ;)

6:25 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger The Pretty Song said...

That cake sounds so good, can't wait to try it. Love reading your blog as always!

6:26 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Molly said...

Oh boy, oh boy, a pirate-themed birthday party! (Privately wondering if I could pull it off for my 34th...)

I'm happy to read good things about Tender, Volume II. I saw some pretty tepid reviews a few months back, which surprised me, given how good his other books are. And Toast was such an enthralling memoir...

6:51 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Michelle Stiles said...

Amen. A scale takes all the fuss out of measuring. It ensures that a good recipe stays in the intended form. I can't wait to try this cake! Thank you!

6:54 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Dani said...

your photography is beautiful!

7:07 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Steph said...

wow, i guess i need to try this recipe! and tuesday night sweet - love that. i look forward to your posts.

7:11 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Anonymous, re: what to do with the plums, thank you for catching that! Oops. They should be pitted and quartered. I just went back and added that...

Thanks, friends.

7:13 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger LoveBites said...

This looks amazing - a must try! Thanks for the recipe, I don't think my shelf could handle more books for the moment. Unfortunately I live in Hong Kong, where it costs US$3 to buy a good plum, but it will be worth it!

7:21 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Elayne said...

This sounds wonderful! I love plum skillet cake (my favorite version is very similar to this, only with buttermilk), so this sounds like taking it to the next level. I'm in.

7:24 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Leigh said...

I made Marion Burros' plum torte from The Essential NYT Cookbook with grand results just last night. For breakfast this morning it was tasty. I'll have to give Mr. Slater's cake a whirl, as those delicious oval Italian plums are in season.

7:31 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Maia said...

What a beautiful way to enjoy plums while we still have them! And I enjoyed your (via Nigella's) use of the word "damp." Exactly how I like my fruit cakes!

7:45 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Ricki said...

Looks like a lovely recipe, Molly (and perfectly suited to breakfast, I'd say). I'm Canadian, and we use metric over here--but you forgot to include the metric for the teaspoons/tablespoons! Just wondering if there's a reason you chose not to do so.

The millileters are different, apparently, in England and Australia (versus Canada)--a tbsp here is 15 ml, 20 in Australia--so I always include the "ml" for my spoons as well (just to be sure we're all using the same volumes). :)

8:09 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous renee@sweetsugarbean said...

Pirates and plums! Love your post!

8:37 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger winnie said...

Wait, wait, wait -- what's this about a scarf you made?

9:35 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Syd said...

I looked up your blog after realizing--to my extreme disappointment--that you were no longer a monthly contributor for Bon Appetit. I'm glad I did, because I do enjoy the way you write, and the scrumptious recipes don't hurt. :)

Question on this one, though: the ingredients list includes brown sugar, while the instructions call for muscovado sugar. I'm guessing the latter is a variant of the former, but I wanted to make sure. And is either color (light brown or dark brown) acceptable, or is one preferred over the other?

10:11 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Ricki, that's a good question. I didn't use metric for the teaspoons or tablespoons because I tend to see them in recipes as-is, with no metric equivalent. But maybe that's something to reconsider? For this recipe, I mostly rewrote the ingredients the way Nigel Slater had them, and then I added cup measures. But Slater calls for slightly heaping teaspoons and so forth, which is not exactly precise... oof. Good point.

Winnie, weeeeell, it's not technically a scarf. It's actually two "puffin" necklaces from this book. I'm in love.

Syd, thanks for catching that error! (Clearly, my head is not attached properly this week.) The original recipe calls for light muscovado sugar, but I substituted golden brown sugar with no problem. I think you could use either - or even dark brown sugar.

10:35 PM, September 26, 2011  
Blogger mcs3000 said...

Beautiful post + cake. btw: next time you're in SF, 826 Valencia has a pirate store. and please do a talk @ omnivore books!

10:37 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous meg- grow and resist said...

I was just wondering about making a plum cake. I discovered an untended plum tree that no one is picking and it is loaded. I have made plum sorbet, plum jam, plum liqueur, spicy hot plum sauce and have partially dehydrated a ton. But no cake. Must have plum cake. Guess I need to go picking again! Thanks!

10:44 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Kristin said...

I love Nigel Slater, he writes beautifully. I've been living in Ireland for 12 years and have come to love the elegance of the metric system and weighing ingredients in the kitchen instead of using cups, especially when baking.

11:31 PM, September 26, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay. Now us Aussies can understand your recipes ;)

12:53 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger london bakes said...

There's another plum cake recipe in The Kitchen Diaries which I was going to make this weekend but I think this one may be a winner with such a wonderful combination of flavours.

1:19 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous ruthie@thetwicebitten said...

Aw Molly, you are a girl on the same page as me. A non frosted plum and cinamon cake is just my kind of thing, I couldn't ask for a more perfect post from you. And yes, I will be eating this for breakfast. I made a similar non frosted pear and cardamon cake a few weeks ago. Down with frosting and pomp I say.

I have such a love affair with Nigel Slater, I wish I could be his sham wife just to eat all his lovely food. His new TV series started showing in the UK on Friday. It wasn't the most rocking Friday night I've ever had but his recipes certainly didn't disappoint.

I also really appreciated the metric quantities Molly, in the UK we tend to use metric and tsp etc for smaller quantities. It's got the thumbs up from me. And for all those wanting to invest in some scales Salter ones are great.

1:43 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Valerie said...

Thanks Molly, exactly what I needed since my husband and I have started the weeknight-after-dinner-cake tradition and are always at the look out for exactly these types of recipes. Will make it tonight, yay!

1:49 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Lizzie said...

Hallelujah for weight measurements! Hooray for accuracy in baking!

2:03 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Žiupsnelisdruskos said...

Very happy about the PS :))

2:04 AM, September 27, 2011  
OpenID usingmainlyspoons.com said...

Hooray for weight measures - so excited about this. I have a number of your old recipes converted to metric in my notes.
Also, hooray for Nigel Slater - no better practitioner of an everyday cake.
We've been promised a heatwave here in South East England, but so far it's grey and cool. I was hanging onto summer with hopes of nectarine butter (a la Smitten Kitchen), but I may need to give in and get plums.

2:52 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Magda said...

I have Nigel's book Tender Vol.II and I love it. So many great recipes. This one I haven't tried but if you say it is perfect, then I must!

3:01 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Talley said...

Visions of sugar plums have been dancing in my head all month, evidenced by the obscene amount of plum cakes I've made. Recently I've been obsessed with the ease and deliciousness of Marian Burros infamous plum cake, but your post has encouraged me to step outside the tiny little plum cake box I've settled into and try something new. Now to find golden syrup in Zürich.

I've also recently fallen in love with my kitchen scale. Just after I bought butter that was measured in grams and not tablespoons or cups I went to the kitchen store in search of a scale. I bought an ADE scale, which I believe is a German company, and I love it! Light and portable and easy to clean.

Wonderful post - thank you!

3:01 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Adam said...

I. Am. Sold. Love Nige. His show "Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers" was great. He has just come back with "Nigel Slater's Simple Cooking". Major garden envy.

3:39 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger em said...

Oh thank you.
I have grown so tired of converting cups to grams when I have lost my cup measurer's.
This sounds divine.
I am always in need of a tuesday evening sweet thing.

3:40 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Kate Minor said...

Beautiful! ps-I love your podcast! It keeps me company as I commute to and from work on the trains in Japan. :) Thanks!

4:44 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Dang it! I've been scouring sites looking for plum recipes. I finally settled on making Ina Garten's never fail plum tart last night ... but it would have been nice to try this. Guess it looks like I'm out to buy a few more pounds of plums ...

4:48 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Gary Phillips said...

Good to see British chefs get a mention in an American blog. I'm in love with Nigel Slater, his food is just so good. And do you get his tv series, Simple Suppers? His kitchen is amazing (I have proper kitchen envy).

5:26 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger missris said...

This sounds blissful! Now I'm off to hunt down some plums.

5:50 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger hannahalehandra said...

I love your photography!! Oh the cake looks divine. xo http://hannahalehandra.blogspot.com/

6:05 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Anna Maria said...

I will definitely make this cake! Thank you for using metric (I live in the UK, but grew up in Poland, and never got used to the imperial system).
This is my first comment (though I have been a fan of your blog for a long time now) so let me just say that I recently read your book and loved it! I am looking forward to the new one. I also love Bird by Bird:-)

6:10 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Colleen said...

I kind of hate plums, but this idea sounds great!
Do you think I could substitute out for, say, nectarines or maybe some berries?

6:12 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Heather M. said...

Huzzah for scales - and plums!

6:44 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Jill said...

Molly, I love the way you write. I just wanted you to know that. Thanks so much for keeping this website and bringing a little bit of joy into my day!

7:08 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Elizabeth Rose said...

Would you consider using frozen plums in this cake? I have already dried, frozen, or baked all of the plums I picked a couple of weeks ago (45 pounds before gifting many of them. It is a good year for plums in Seattle).

7:13 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Isabelle said...

Thank you for posting recipes with weights! I have to eat gluten-free and it makes it so much easier to adapt.

7:27 AM, September 27, 2011  
OpenID rootsofmyheart said...

Sounds delicious! I can't wait to try it with the plums softening on my counter right now!

8:39 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger perudelights said...

Molly, what a beautiful post. I do love plum cake, and I´m a huge fan of Nigel Slater´s books. I totally agree that in baking is more accurate to measure by weight. Thanks for the recipe.

9:09 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Michele said...

This beautiful, perfect recipe on the heels of my recent disastrous attempt to make a honey cake is so inspiring! I've been searching far and wide for that go-to cake. So thank you, thank you. We'll see if I can pull it off.

9:11 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Kate @ Savour Fare said...

I've been reading the Betsy Tacy books to my daughter, and her imagination is entirely captured by Tacy's mother's "plain, unfrosted cake." I think plums might just blow her mind. I also like cardamom with plums (or, you know, with anything) and think that might be a nice substitution for the cinnamon.

9:12 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake said...

This cake looks so simple and sweet. I love the combination of honey, syrup and brown butter with the tartness of plum. I am definitely open to eating this for breakfast :)

9:29 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Mary said...

Gorgeous photo! My book group read (and loved) A Homemade Life a few months ago, but I am just now getting around to following your blog. What a treat! I'm here in Seattle, too, and yesterday's weather inspired me to make a Chicken Pot Pie. Wow, Fall blew in fast this year. Thanks again for your wonderful writing, recipes and inspiration.

9:35 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Anne Zimmerman said...

Plums just came in my csa -- yea!

9:47 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Blondie (semi) real said...

Love your post as usual) and thanks for the Metric recipe Molly, that's so much easier for us "Aliens" :-)

...and you definitely don't need to convert Teaspoons, Tablespoons or "pinch of salt" etc.

10:13 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Jaime said...

I've never been tempted to cook plums till now. This will be my project for the coming weekend, thank you for sharing this recipe from Nigel's book! Must check out the book now!

11:00 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger EB of SpiceDish said...

Any day that starts with the statement "I don’t like to whip her, but I really need her to run fast, because the British are coming!" definitely promises to offer up interesting results!

11:03 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I have good friends that we like to share meals with - a foodie extravaganza - the only hitch is... he is lactose intolerant. So I am always looking for delicious desserts that I can modify for him. This looks like the ticket. Thank you for your wonderful blog - it is an inspiration to me as a beginning blogger.

11:06 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Spring said...

Wait a minute. I need to grease the pan AND use parchment paper? That seems a bit overkill...?

And I'm with everyone who said a big "thank you" for adding the metric measurements! It makes me more confident that I can make this recipe as it was intended to be. :)

11:23 AM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Sarah said...

you re the best!

11:25 AM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Janice said...

Plums must be 'in the air', Just made plum jam for the first time- using lemon juice and lemon zest- Oh My Word it is soooo good.

I'm off to see if I have enough plums left to make this cake. I know I don't have the syrup, so I'll have to think outside the box on this one.

12:00 PM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Bee said...

oh YUM. i can't wait to try this.

12:10 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Cathy said...

There's something special-sounding about your plum cake in spite of it not being fancy with frosting nor ceremony. I will tuck it away to try soon.
BTW, I taught myself how to knit a few years ago and would love to see a photo of your scarf. As with cooking, it's very satisfying to create something with your hands.

1:01 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Cuoca Ciccia said...

Me too on hoarding the summer fruit. I am certainly welcoming the fall produce (about to post on a quince-apple tart), but I have been grabbing all of the extra pluots and strawberries that our farmer's market cares to sell me these days.

1:51 PM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger matthewfreedman said...

Anyone have any ideas on possible substitutes for the syrup?

2:55 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Julie O. said...

I love that you're now posting recipes in cup and weight measurements. After reading a recent article in the New York Times about how much quicker and easier it is to cook using a kitchen scale, I've been itching to give it a try. Now I have two reasons to try this recipe (the first being that you made it sound so irresistible).

3:12 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Andrea said...

I too love Nigel Slater's recipes, his cookery books are a joy to read, and if they ever make it across the pond do try and watch his programmes, his manner and way of cooking is a delight to behold.
His plum cake is wonderful, but for a lighter yet still wonderful plummy cake may I put forward the following http://androushka-calicoheart.blogspot.com/2011/07/plum-time.html
It is also a make often, cut and come again cake...

3:51 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Andrea said...

ps do get used to baking by weighing, it really is so much easier and much more accurate. In England we all grow up cooking by weight and I must say when living in Canada I found using 'cups' very scary, both have their place, but weighing really is best for baking, I promise!

3:55 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love pudding cake; can hardly wait to try. Thanks!

4:38 PM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Urban Girl said...

Dear Molly,

I am a fan of your writing (wherever I find it) and I can't wait for your next book.... all the best with that project.

I just wrote a blog post about a recent experience I had with your book and thought to share with you - hope you enjoy reading it.


All the best, urbangirl

4:45 PM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger s said...

I really don't want to buy Golden Syrup unless I have to, so I'm wondering, do you think I can substitute Maple syrup which I always have?

5:21 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Lauren @ LaDolcePita said...

Molly, love you & your blog. And your memoir and former BA column :) And now I want plumcake.

I'm a fledgling foodblogger. Visit my site? Would love to hear from you!!

6:30 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous Mel said...

For two weeks, I have been searching (rather "unspiritedly") for a YES cake to make for my colleague's birthday morning tea tomorrow. I am so excited to read this post today!

I will be baking this cake tonight. Thank you!

7:37 PM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Girlytutu said...

I wonder if rice syrup or agave would substitute for golden syrup and if the quantity would be the same.......daydreaming of plum cake.

10:04 PM, September 27, 2011  
Blogger Di said...

Now I'm even more morose about moving house and leaving my gorgeous plum trees behind!

What a beautiful post (and photos). Molly, I could read your recipes every day. I am now on the hunt for the perfect sturdy spoon.

11:34 PM, September 27, 2011  
OpenID multiculturalmelbourne.com said...

Must. Have. Plums. NOW!!! That little slice looks devine!

2:01 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Mel said...

Thanks Molly. I really enjoyed making this tonight! http://treehousekitchen.net/2011/09/28/honey-cinnamon-and-plums/

4:34 AM, September 28, 2011  
Blogger shari said...

i am loving baking with a scale, too. this cake...is one i must make. i was on the lookout yesterday for plums. couldn't find a one! xo

5:06 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Foodertainment said...

That plum cake sounds lovely. Local supermarkets are great if you want to get some 'too ripe' fruit for free. I went to my local in Gerrards Cross, Bucks and got a huge bag of brown bananas for nothing! So I made banana cake!! :) Love your blog though, it's a really enjoyable read!

6:04 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Katherine said...

Hi, Molly! Do you know what you are going to make when citrus comes? I keep thinking of a gingerbread or nut cake with a tangerine glaze or something-- lemon glazes are great on gingerbread, so why not tangerine, right? Is there a key to citrus glazes? --Katherine (A blog about moving to Alabama and making dinner: www.eggton.com)

6:42 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Daughter Fish said...

Lovely pictures and post, as always. Any tips on where a pirate visiting Seattle (or more precisely, Bellevue) could get golden syrup? Is your neighborhood store a chain operation? I want to make this!

6:59 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Angela said...

Molly. literally looking for a book to read in the bookstore, I stumbled on to your book. I am a long time lover of 'homemade' but lost the thread of that part of my life. I am taking it up again and your book is inspiring. Thank you. Question, many of the recipes that you got from your parents and others originated from established cook books that you mention. How does that work in terms of copyright? I am just curious as I want to compile a family recipe book but know that some of our 'family' recipes come from copywritten cook books. How does a food writer handle that?
Thank you for your inspiration.

7:51 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Julia said...

Molly... Wooo Hooo!!! I'm your loyal follower from Argentina and we have metrical system here... so I'm always struggling with the cups and tbsp... I loooovvvvee that you're including grs in your recipes!!
This is my first comment ever, so, thanks for your beautiful posts and the recipes, I'd say I tried 50% of them so far and I loved them all! Julia from Buenos Aires

8:56 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Made this cake last night with Waldron Island plums and all honey (no golden syrup) - wow!

9:37 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Sara said...

As a Swiss-girl I very much appreciate if you use the metric system:)...so thanks!
And I just bought a pound of plums today on the farmers market, knowing I wanted to bake something! Now I know what I`m making because this cake sounds delicious!


10:01 AM, September 28, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Hi, friends!

mcs3000, I did a reading at Omnivore Books in 2009, and I hope to get back there when my next book comes out! Such a great store...

Colleen, I think nectarines would be fantastic here. Or maybe blueberries?

Elizabeth Rose, I've never baked with frozen plums, but I don't know why it wouldn't work here! I would be inclined to thaw them before using, though, and to blot away any excess moisture / juice before putting them in the batter.

matthewfreedman, you can substitute honey for the golden syrup, and it should be just fine.

S, yes, I think you can try it with maple syrup instead. Let me know how it turns out, would you?

Katherine, this is one of my very favorite things to make with citrus fruits.

Daughter Fish, I would try Whole Foods. Maybe give them a call? My local store is Ballard Market, and it is part of a small local chain, but I don't believe they have any stores in Bellevue.

Angela, David Lebovitz has written a fantastic article on recipe attribution, copyright, and those kinds of sticky issues. You can find it over here.

10:49 AM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Ann said...

As a Brit, and baker, and maker of some still delicious but not-how-they-should be US baking recipes, THANK YOU THANK YOU for weights and measurements. You rock.

1:39 PM, September 28, 2011  
Blogger GG said...

I really liken the fact that Nigel Slater advocates using a recipe as a guide not as a list to be stuck to. Not sure how that works with baking. Have you read Toast? Gives a real insight into Nigel Slater. GG

1:40 PM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Yum, yum, yum. Just before you posted this I made Alice Medrich's Rustic Plum Cake, via your post about it. But that only used up about a third of our plums ... and we (ahem, I) can certainly bust through some sweets around here. So I made this one yesterday. It's wonderful. I love how it's moist and sweet but not at all cloying, despite all those different sweeteners. Golden syrup it not easy to find around here, so I did the 2:1 corn syrup/molasses combo for that, and it's delicious. And almost gone.

2:10 PM, September 28, 2011  
Blogger maria said...

Hi Molly. I have been reading your blog for a while, but I almost never leave comments on blog posts (in general). However, this past weekend, I made your highly recommended almond cake, and I was in love. I had to come tell you about it and thank you for posting the recipe. I also love everyday cakes. Since you call this cake "perfect", I now have to make this one, too! Anyway, thanks again. :)

3:01 PM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still laughing about what the little boy said.

4:46 PM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Amanda Bowman said...

Yum! I just bought a bag of plums at the farmer's market and was wondering what to do with them...now I know!

5:28 PM, September 28, 2011  
Anonymous Niki said...

Molly I'm thrilled to have a new go-to plum recipe. Delia Smith posted a plum cobbler about 2 weeks ago that was fabulous. How about some more plum recipes? I seem to have an abundance....

12:03 AM, September 29, 2011  
Blogger Josefine Laul said...

Lovely photo!!!!!

2:12 AM, September 29, 2011  
Anonymous Kimby said...

Molly, the recipe name got me, too. Hope you curled up with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (and your scarf) and enjoyed every "damp" bite! :)

3:56 AM, September 29, 2011  
Blogger matinetnuit said...

Hi Molly, what kind of plums did you use for this recipe? Have you experimented with different types? Prune plums?
Also - this has nothing to do with plums but I'm wondering where you get film for your polaroid cameras. Your shots always look fantastic. My SX-70 is feeling neglected.

7:12 AM, September 29, 2011  
Blogger Sasha said...

Nigel is just too good! This does sound like the perfect cake (a word that I, too, tend to avoid).

Recently he had a recipe in his column for roasted plum sorbet. With this cake and that sorbet I could easily find my way to plum heaven (and without leftovers to can for winter).

8:58 AM, September 29, 2011  
Anonymous Delyth from www.thedelicious.net said...

Hi Molly
I was so impressed with the cake I immediately took out my copy of Tender and made it. I blogged about it here :


..and linked to your site.
Thankyou. What a cake!

12:29 PM, September 29, 2011  
Anonymous Emily M. said...

GAH! i wonder how this cake tastes should someone forget to add in the sugar? how, HOW, i ask, does one leave the sugar out of a CAKE, for crying out loud. drat.

2:25 PM, September 29, 2011  
Anonymous Kyle @ NutritionHub said...

Thanks for the great recipe inspiration! Haven't seen (or eaten) an awesome cake like this in ages.

As a budding food and technology entrepreneur, I also got a lot out of that David Lebovitz article on recipe attribution. Thanks, and I look forward to keeping up with your blog!

3:25 PM, September 29, 2011  
Anonymous Emily M. said...

okay-WHEW! should any other person also make such an idiotic mistake as leaving out the sugar, i thought i would report back that it does not ruin the cake. just had a still-slightly-warm piece and it was moist and delicious. though maybe not as moist as it should be??? might be my oven, as i'm still getting used to it. anyway, i imagine that it would be even better with sugar!!! i think i'll be making this cake again soon. i mean, i really should know for sure, don't you think?

4:35 PM, September 29, 2011  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I love the photo! I also do not have a kitchen scale and will look into one by Salter.

The plum cake sounds divine.....

5:22 PM, September 29, 2011  
Blogger Foodiva said...

I've always loved using a scale or baking, it's terribly convenient and easy! Looks like this is a cake I should be making this weekend, thanks to you, Molly ;-).

10:15 PM, September 29, 2011  
Blogger erica said...

mmmm...plum cake time! just got a few pounds of Italian prune plums at home (only available in our market one or two weeks of the year) and i'm excited bake my once-yearly prune plum cake with them!

1:12 AM, September 30, 2011  
Anonymous Marie Poulin said...

Great post like always. You have been an inspiration.

2:42 AM, September 30, 2011  
OpenID lechow said...

ahhhhh, that photo is so gorgeous. and i happen to love cakes like this. i have a similar one with plain ol apples and it's stunning.
looking forward to reading more.

2:03 PM, September 30, 2011  
Anonymous Hannah said...

Anytime "pudding" and "cake" are together in a title then that is the cake for me! Damp is an accurate description of the texture of my favorite cakes. Since I have loads of Italian plums at the moment, this cake will appear on the table tonight. Thank you for sharing!

2:05 PM, September 30, 2011  
Blogger Heavy Petal said...


What a happy coincidence! I was loosely planning to make some sort of plum cake with the prune plums I bought at the farmer's market when I happened to visit your site. Cake's in the oven already!


3:27 PM, September 30, 2011  
Blogger Kara said...

This turned out delicious! I used buttermilk because I had some on hand, the plums were slightly under-ripe, and then by accident left it in the oven for 60 minutes instead of the recommended time. It still came out moist and tasty. Thank you.

7:07 AM, October 01, 2011  
Anonymous Therese said...

Yay for weight measure!! Thank you so much! I make your scones frequently, and always mumble too myself how much better this experience would be using a scale.

I know you've succinctly stated NOT to change the sugars, but I was wondering, if instead of golden syrup, one could use maple syrup? (Yes, I'm Canadian)

Thank you!

10:15 AM, October 01, 2011  
Blogger Becky said...

As a long time reader but never yet commenter, from across the pond, I just want to say, so very glad you are also a fan of Nigel. He is the BEST. Have Tender Vol 1 and 2, but haven't yet made this. Will now try!

2:50 PM, October 01, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

matinetnuit, I'm actually not sure what kind of plums I used. Some were purple and sort of heart-shaped, and others looked like those "dinosaur egg" pluots. I think any plum would be delicious here! And as for Polaroid stuff, I'm currently using a big, clunky Polaroid 600, which takes peel-apart film. My favorite film is Fuji FP100c, and I buy it at Glazer's.

Therese, I think maple syrup should be fine! Let me know how it turns out...

6:57 PM, October 01, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for moving to grms in recipes. I have your book and have struggled over a few recipes with cups as measurements. So much easier now!

1:02 AM, October 02, 2011  
Blogger Spring said...

Thanks for the great recipe! I was able to track down the golden syrup (at my local QFC of all places) and it was delicious. I used the small Italian (prune?) plums so I'm extra grateful that you had a weigh measurement for them. I think I used about 6 or 7 plums.

1:04 AM, October 02, 2011  
Blogger Joanna said...

I might be in love with Nigel. And bless you for using metric!

1:54 AM, October 02, 2011  
Blogger matinetnuit said...

Thanks a lot!

2:21 PM, October 02, 2011  
Blogger Kirsty said...

i can verify that this cake is delicious! glad that you will be posting recipes in metric from now on too. i am moving to seattle from the UK next summer and am happy to hear i will be able to find golden syrup easily, it was one of the products i was worried about missing!

2:44 PM, October 02, 2011  
Blogger Janice said...

I made the cake this morning and it is so so so good. After saying that, I have to tell you that being lactose intolerant, and having issues with beet and cane sugars, I made a few substitutions.
Instead of the Golden syrup I used 100% maple syrup, instead of brown sugar I used maple sugar, instead of dairy milk I used plain soy milk, and instead of butter I used crisco.... I know, I know, but, you know what, this is an amazing cake because even with all of those changes, it is awesome!
The only thing I think I would do differently is maybe slice the plums into eighths instead of quarters, just to spread them more equally- and I don't think you could hurt this cake by putting in a couple extra plums either. I'm trying to figure out what I am going to do when the plums are gone.
Thanks for breakfast, lunch and dinner :)

3:25 PM, October 02, 2011  
OpenID girlseeksplace said...

Sounds delicious.

3:25 PM, October 02, 2011  
Blogger secret cake said...

Oh excellent! Today is my 12-year anniversary and I wanted to make a little something for tonight. I have a platter full of plums begging for some attention. Alas, I don't have golden syrup so I'll try equal parts of honey and real maple syrup. Fingers crossed!

3:30 PM, October 02, 2011  
Anonymous Philamark said...

I made thiis sake today. Just ad it for dessert with a pot of tea and absolutely loved it. This cake is superb! So moist and flavorful! Thank you Molly!

6:46 PM, October 02, 2011  
Anonymous Philamark said...

Sorry for the previous typos what I meant to say is that I made this cake today. Just had it for dessert with a pot of tea and absolutely loved it. This cake is superb! So moist and flavorful! Thank you Molly!

7:59 PM, October 02, 2011  
Blogger Ania vel Vespertine said...

Hi Molly, I'm so glad, that you put grams in your recipe, that makes my lifie much easier :)

Greeting from Poland, from your faitful fan!

PS I think about that cake... We have fantastic plums in Poland - węgierki. Very sweet aromatic, they'll be great for this!

12:24 AM, October 03, 2011  
Blogger jjk84 said...

Hi, Just one of the many reporting back on the use of maple instead of golden syrup here -- I made this cake w/ that substitution for a friend's "cleaning out the (wine) cave" party on Friday and it was DELICIOUS. A total hit -- warm, damp, homey, seamless flavors -- I could totally see what you meant about each sweetener adding its own unique flavor that all meld together beautifully. Thanks so much for posting the recipe!!

2:14 AM, October 03, 2011  
Blogger Fil said...

"P.S. I’ve fallen in love with the ease, speed, and accuracy of metric weight measurements, particularly in baking." and in so doing have increased my affection for you in happy, non-converting bounds! And yes, the cake is delightful, if only our plum season weren't over by a month or so...

8:01 AM, October 03, 2011  
Blogger hydeeann said...

ditto on the metric measurements. glad you'll be including them.

i've considered the "tender" volumes, but as i live in the desert and have nothing fresh but citrus (it's coming!) i think i'll pass. which is a good thing since last time you mentioned "jeni's ice creams" i bought it and five more cookbooks online before i was through. =) but i'm definitely going to try the plum cake.

7:23 PM, October 03, 2011  
Blogger Annie said...

My 2 year old son and I made this together today and it is SO delicious! Thank you for sharing!

11:07 PM, October 03, 2011  
Blogger zoe; said...

i've been searching for a nice plum cake!

2:37 AM, October 04, 2011  
Blogger Gemma said...

Have you seen any of Nigel's TV shows? I recommend a YouTube session for both the more recent ones and the older Real Food ones, the episodes with Nigella as a guest are a particular treat!

I made plum jam for the first time this year and am in love, I'm supposed to be giving it away for Christmas but may be keeping a few jars...

8:13 AM, October 04, 2011  
Anonymous andrea (book-scout) said...

whipped it up before bed last night and had my first piece this morning. damn, gina, it is GOOD. didn't have golden syrup (as delightful and twee as it sounds), so i used more honey. also used salted butter (which i had on hand) and left out the salt. i will be bringing this one to every single event this fall and probably forever after. sometimes i get intimidated by the sheer size of nigel's books (aaron keeps them in the kitchen at the restaurant, not at home), so i probably never would have found this recipe on my own. THANK YOU!

2:56 PM, October 04, 2011  
Blogger margie said...

Wow, Molly, we are on a wave length. I've finally started transitioning my recipes to weights as well as measures, and I just recently made a plum pudding cake. Unfortunately, mine wasn't blog-worthy, and we ran out of good prune plums down here before I could perfect it.

6:33 PM, October 04, 2011  
Blogger theminx said...

Wow - that recipe made me drool. And I just so happen to have a full bottle of golden syrup in the pantry....

9:15 AM, October 05, 2011  
Blogger Naomi said...

On the subject of plums and the wonderous of them I want to share a recipe that learnt on my professional cookery course that I've used three times already this summer because of the consistent results, general begging and great flavour of the recipe. Oh and it takes a few mins of prep only... It always comes out pefectly and everyone will love you for it


(not my blog, but the recipe as it is produced in the book she mentions that accomponies a 12 week professional cookery course)

4:15 PM, October 05, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm, wish i had checked the comments before combining corn syrup and honey to approximate golden syrup (which i can't bring myself to buy, since i don't use it for anything). ah well, we shall see. :) i had wee little purple plums, and i just halved them, and i used 12 instead of 5 (but they were wee, and perfectly covered the surface of my 9x9 cake when in dough form). that said, i kept the cake in for 35 minutes + 25 with tinfoil and it was still quite gooey in the middle when i turned off the oven because i have to go to sleep at some point. ;) we shall see how it turns out, but based on the comments i am hopeful! maybe i killed it with too many plums?

10:53 PM, October 05, 2011  
Blogger kristina - no penny for them said...

molly, i can't tell you how much i'm enjoying your writing.

and, to top it all off, you've decided to add weights to your recipes. thank you so much!

10:56 AM, October 06, 2011  
Blogger Al said...

This recipe looks great! Wish I would have stumbled upon it last week as I frantically harvested and put up two trees worth of Italian plums…. prunes anyone?

8:22 AM, October 10, 2011  
Anonymous Karriann Graf said...

It looks simple and delicious! burp!

11:56 AM, October 12, 2011  
Blogger Jaime said...

This cake is perfect to cozy up with on a cold day! I followed your recipe but used orange blossom honey - lovely still. I love it warm - 30 second zap in the microwave on low heat. Ready to brave the winter months!

5:10 AM, October 13, 2011  
Blogger Sarah said...

You can also use light corn syrup as a golden syrup substitute, or simply add water to syrup and thicken as a syrup.

11:55 AM, October 13, 2011  
Anonymous Ginger said...

Just popped the cake in the oven. My golden syrup expired back in '08 and so used some local, organic honey instead. Unfortunately, my plums looked pretty sad. I'm hoping the oven heat will fix that and intensify their sugars, otherwise, I'll be giving this cake another try over the weekend! The batter is delish.

9:40 AM, October 19, 2011  
Anonymous Juanita said...

I made this today with Italian plums. Had to hunt all over for the golden syrup--found it at Whole Foods in Portland.
Just ate the first piece. Wonderful!
Thanks for converting to metric weights--makes accuracy so easy.
Still, I used a lot of pans and bowls to make this. Definitely worth it.

7:39 PM, October 25, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've now made this twice with plums and twice with pears. We usually eat it with salted caramel ice cream from Strauss family creamery, which is divine. Today's version was my favorite: I only had Asian pears, so I poached them first in Marsala and sugar to make them a little richer. We boiled down the Marsala, and used it as a sauce for the cake. Delicious.

10:17 PM, December 18, 2011  
Anonymous Linsey said...

Molly, this gem has sat in the back of my mind for a full year, and finally, today, while four plums grew mushy on the counter, I cam back to this. Can't believe I remembered it rattling around up there for so long! In my frenzy, I subbed buttermilk for milk and agave for golden syrup and oh, MY!! I'm going to have to leave the house to ensure the 8 piece yield! Thanks for this gem.

2:43 PM, July 26, 2012  
Anonymous Elissa said...

I love this cake and have made it a couple of times since you posted the recipe. I had some late season peaches that I needed to use up and substituted 3 peaches (cut into 8ths) for the plums, I also substituted 1/2 cup of barley flour for some of the regular flour. The results were excellent. Can't wait to make it again with plums now that they're all over the markets.

10:44 AM, September 11, 2012  

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