Plummy goodness: plum and cardamom cake


Before the last juicy plums vanish from the markets and fresh produce displays, buy up and bake a cake! This delightfully fragrant cake is dense and moist, strong with the aroma of plum and cardamom and lifted by tangy pieces of plum.

I’ve adapted a recipe from Canadian pastry chef Regan Daley’s wonderful In the Sweet Kitchen (Artisan, 2001). She called hers Plum and Cardamom Sweet Bread, but I feel it’s more cakey. Enjoy this now, perhaps as relief from the disappointment of cheapo Easter eggs and anodyne commercial hot cross buns.

The original recipe used a larger amount of cardamom, but with fresh cardamom it was very strong and possibly off-putting for some people. I recommend starting with the amount shown below.

This cake isn’t at all tricky and can be made quite quickly — it just takes a while in the oven. It freezes well.


Plum and Cardamom Cake

  Source: adapted from Regan Daley: In the Sweet Kitchen (Artisan, 2001)

Yield: 1 long loaf tin — 32 x 11 x 6.5 cm

180 g unsalted butter
200 g sugar
125 g light brown sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence/extract
0.5 tsp (2.5 ml) finely grated orange zest
2 eggs (55-60 g)
250 ml buttermilk
350 g plain flour
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly ground cardamom
0.5 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
0.5 tsp (2.5 ml) bicarbonate of soda
1 Tbsp (20 ml) plain flour – for coating plums
approx 6 medium sized plums (approx 5 cm diameter) – stoned and chopped into 2 cm cubes


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the tin and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars at high speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and beat until combined.
  4. Add the cardamom, vanilla and orange zest.
  5. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  6. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk in portions, mixing briefly on low speed between each addition until just combined: 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour.
  7. In a bowl, coat the chopped plums with the extra 20 g flour. Gently stir into the mixture by hand.
  8. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin. Smooth the top.
  9. Bake for 1h15m-1h45m. Use a wooden skewer to check whether the cake is cooked.
  10. Once cooked, allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the tin carefully as the cake is quite heavy.
  • SERVING NOTE: Absolutely delicious warm, great with coffee when cold.



2 thoughts on “Plummy goodness: plum and cardamom cake”

  1. Plums and cardamom.. yum. I had some good yellow plums recently. Great just eating them straight out of the paperbag. Regan Daley’s book.. never got round to buying it. Have you cooked much from it? Is it worth getting?

  2. The book covers many different dishes and also contains a wealth of knowledge about flavour combos, ingredients and substitutes, etc etc, with a distinctly North American slant. About 50% of the book is this sort of useful information. The recipes are not high-end — very much cafe and bakery fare — and I’ve found some to be too sweet for local tastes. It’s a good book to have on the shelf, because her recipes and information provide inspiration for other possibilities. There have been other books since which cover some similar ground (eg, The Essential Baker, Carol Bloom), but Regan Daley’s book feels reliable and useful.

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