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Plum Crumble Cake

Studded with juicy, sweet and tart plums, and then piled with a streusel topping, this decadent plum crumble cake is both beautiful and delicious.

A plume crumble cake, sliced up and with one slice served.

The plum cake celebrates the swan song of the summer fruit season.

The base is a layer of tender, delicate, one bowl cake that you mix in one bowl. It’s tender and moist, with buttermilk for great flavor and texture.

After that, you top it with slices of sweet plums. These will bake into a soft, jammy layer atop the cake. And finally, the topping layer of crumbly streusel. What’s not to love in this winning trio?

A closer shot of the layers of the plum crumble cake.

You can make this cake with other stone fruits, too. Sliced peaches or nectarines also work beautifully here, though I think the tartness of the plums adds a beautiful complexity to the flavors.

The History of Plum Cake

Plum cake is typically thought of as an English cake, traditionally as part of Advent (Christmas time) menus. Dating back to medieval times, it was part of the celebratory feasts to herald a season of revelry that followed a season of abstinence and sometimes fasting. Now, plum cakes and puddings sometimes don’t even have plums in them!

But that fruitcake like dessert is fairly different from this one, which is more closely related to the German version, called Zwetschgenkuchen or Pflaumenkuchen.

What Kind of Plums Should be Used in Cake?

Red or black plums will work just fine in this cake. Their flavors are slightly different, so it’s a choose your own adventure situation.

Black plums have a very dark skin that is sweet with a tart flesh. They’re what I used in this recipe for the way the tangy flavor contrasts with the sweetness of the cake. However, if you prefer red plums, which are over all sweeter, you absolutely can use them! It’s really up to you.

Ingredients

  • Salted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • An egg
  • Whole milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Fresh plums
Plum Cake ingredients.

Crumble Topping

  • All-purpose flour
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt
Flour, brown and white sugars, and a pinch of salt in a bowl for streusel topping.
Pouring melted butter into the bowl to make the crumble topping.

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Baking scale or measuring cups
  • Wooden spoon or electric hand mixer
  • Paring knife
  • Cutting Board
  • 8″ or 9″ cake pan, preferable with a removable bottom. Something like a springform pan or one with a loose bottom works well.

How to Make a Plum Crumble Cake

Mixing the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350° and set a rack in the center. Butter or oil an 8 or 9 inch cake pan, and then lightly tap flour around it until there is a light coating all around the edge and bottom of the pan.

In a bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together until they’re well combined and fluffy. If using, add the lemon zest and stir it in.

Creamed butter and sugar with lemon zest being stirred in.

Add the egg, vanilla, and milk to the butter and sugar, and mix them in well.

Adding egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar.
Stirring in the final wet ingredient, the milk.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt until they’re well mixed. Then, stir the dry ingredients into the wet.

Mix and fold the dry ingredients just until the flour is completely absorbed. Don’t overmix, as this can make the gluten develop and create a tough and chewy texture in the cake.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth it into an even layer.

Preparing and Arranging the Plums

Wash and dry the plums thoroughly. Slice the plums with a sharp paring knife– you should get about 8-10 slices from each plum. You can also chop them into 1/2″ chunks, if you prefer.

Layer the sliced plums on top of the cake in the cake tin.

Place the slices of plums in a single layer. You can arrange them as carefully or haphazardly as you like, just make sure they’re only slightly overlapping each other and not piled too thickly in any one spot.

A layer of plums arranged on top of the batter.

Making the Crumble Topping

In a small bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, and salt together until all of the ingredients are well distributed. Pour the melted butter over it, then stir it well until it’s all a damp, crumbly mixture.

Use your clean hands and distribute the crumble topping evenly over the plums. You want some larger clumps, but none that are too big.

The crumble topping, ready to put on top of the plums.
The cake, with topping on it, ready to go into the oven.

Baking the Cake

Place the cake on the center rack in the oven. Bake it for 60-70 minutes. To test the cake for doneness, insert a toothpick, probe, or thin knife into the center. If it comes out with any batter on the insert, return the cake to the oven for another 5 minutes before retesting.

The baked plum crumble cake.

Once the cake has finished baking, set it out to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then, turn it out of the pan to keep it from continuing to bake. If you have a pan with a removable bottom (such as a springform), you can simply remove the sides rather than flipping it out. This keeps the crumble topping looking pretty.

Allow the cake to cool for at least 30-45 minutes before cutting to allow the crumb to set.

Serving and Storing the Plum Crumble Cake

To serve, simply cut the cake into wedges and serve it warm or at room temperature. It’s delicious with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A sliced, beautiful plum crumble cake.

Store any leftover cake in an airtight container. It can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

However, if you chill it, allow it to come to room temperature before eating it, or the crumb can feel dry and crumbly.

As it sits, the crumble topping can soften. This is more exaggerated when the cake is stored at room temperature, but will happen no matter what as it is stored with the moist cake.

Other Fruit Dessert Recipes You May Enjoy:

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Plum Crumble Cake


  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 9″ cake 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 Tablespoons (84 grams) salted butter
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz.) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (203 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 45 plums, sliced large

Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup (135 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups (100 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cups (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350° and set a rack in the center. Butter or oil an 8 or 9 inch cake pan, and then lightly tap flour around it until there is a light coating all around the edge and bottom of the pan.

In a bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar together until they’re well combined and fluffy. If using, add the lemon zest and stir it in.

Add the egg, vanilla, and milk to the butter and sugar, and mix them in well.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt until they’re well mixed. Then, stir the dry ingredients into the wet.

Mix and fold the dry ingredients just until the flour is completely absorbed. Don’t overmix, as this can make the gluten develop and create a tough and chewy texture in the cake.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth it into an even layer.

 

Preparing and Arranging the Plums

Wash and dry the plums thoroughly. Slice the plums with a sharp paring knife– you should get about 8-10 slices from each plum. You can also chop them into 1/2″ chunks, if you prefer.

Place the slices of plums in a single layer. You can arrange them as carefully or haphazardly as you like, just make sure they’re only slightly overlapping each other and not piled too thickly in any one spot.

Making the Crumble Topping

In a small bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, and salt together until all of the ingredients are well distributed. Pour the melted butter over it, then stir it well until it’s all a damp, crumbly mixture.

Use your clean hands and distribute the crumble topping evenly over the plums. You want some larger clumps, but none that are too big.

Baking the Cake

Place the cake on the center rack in the oven. Bake it for 60-70 minutes. To test the cake for doneness, insert a toothpick, probe, or thin knife into the center. If it comes out with any batter on the insert, return the cake to the oven for another 5 minutes before retesting.

Once the cake has finished baking, set it out to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then, turn it out of the pan to keep it from continuing to bake. If you have a pan with a removable bottom (such as a springform), you can simply remove the sides rather than flipping it out. This keeps the crumble topping looking pretty.

Allow the cake to cool for at least 30-45 minutes before cutting to allow the crumb to set.

Serving and Storing the Plum Crumble Cake

To serve, simply cut the cake into wedges and serve it warm or at room temperature. It’s delicious with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Store any leftover cake in an airtight container. It can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

However, if you chill it, allow it to come to room temperature before eating it, or the crumb can feel dry and crumbly.

As it sits, the crumble topping can soften. This is more exaggerated when the cake is stored at room

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Baked Goods
  • Method: Baking

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