Sometimes something is so simple yet in it’s simplicity so absolutely perfect that it should be recognized over and over again. Plum Torte, an iconic recipe originally from Marion Burros via her friend & collaborator Lois Levine, is without a doubt one of those recipes. Initially published in the New York Times in 1983, Plum Torte was republished annually during plum season until 1995. Although not intended as an Italian torta, Plum Torte has all of the hallmarks of a simple Italian dolce, fatto a casa.
Plum Torte is a seasonal favorite at Casa Levitt, especially when friends bring me baskets of fresh plums from their trees. It is ridiculously simple to prepare, even for those of you who consider savory dishes your strength; virtually a one bowl cake. Over the years, I have substituted ripe peaches or apricots for the plums and the results have been equally delicious.
There is nothing exotic about the ingredients whatsoever, standard staples make it easy to whip up this torte at almost any moment. Generally, I am not a fan of freezing fruit ladened tortes, but I trusted the original directions and have frozen Plum Torte with much success. Gently warming the defrosted Plum Torte in a low oven works like a charm.
The classic recipe is as dependable as can be, but I made some minor changes and added a few tips to make preparing it even easier.
Don’t be bashful, give Plum Torte a try – it makes a splendid breakfast the next morning.
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- ¾ cup of granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted twice
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large fresh eggs
- 12 pitted purple plums, sliced into halves - 24 pieces in all
- Reserved juice from slicing the plums
- 4 tablespoons of turbinado sugar
- ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Half of a fresh lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350º.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 9” springform pan.
- Stir the baking powder and pinch of salt into the sifted flour using a whisk.
- Combine the turbinado sugar and desired amount of cinnamon with a fork until well combined.
- Place the butter and granulated sugar into the work bowl of a standing mixer and cream until the mixture becomes rich, fluffy and well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat for one minute each. Scrape down the bowl after each egg is added. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the dry ingredients with broad strokes of a spatula until no traces of white remain; do not over mix. The batter will be rather thick.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread out with the back of a large spoon. Place the plum halves, skin side up on top of the batter; I generally start from the center and continue in concentric circles, but any arrangement is fine.
- Sprinkle the sugar - cinnamon mixture over the plums, followed by a little squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle any remaining plum juice over the top of the torte.
- Place into the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The torte is done when a toothpick inserted into the cake portion of the torte comes out clean.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool. Run a sharp knife around the sides of the pan at this point to prevent the sugary plum syrup that has formed to harden. After 30 minutes remove the sides of the springform pan and allow it to cool further. Remove from the bottom of the springform pan to a cake plate.
- The cake may be eaten lukewarm, at room temperature, or frozen* at this point.* To freeze allow the Plum Torte to cool completely, wrap well first in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil and place in a plastic bag. To serve a previously frozen torte, defrost completely and reheat it gently at 300º