Friday, September 21, 2012


The Plum Pudding Cake is the third recipe in my Nigel Slater September Cakes Series. I adore moist cakes studded with plums. This cake is another comfort style, mid-week, everyday kind of cake from Nigel Slater. It is a sweet and spicy treat, more like a “pudding” than a cake. Great with an afternoon cup of tea. I decided to bake this Plum Pudding Cake with the green “Reine Claude plums" (also known as Greengage plums) from France. They taste wonderful and I love their color, it is a nice contrast to the dark gingerbread style kind of cake that we all enjoyed tremendously and that I will bake again soon but using the last of the Italian plums that are still available but will disappear soon for the season.

When you read the recipe for this pudding style cake, you will notice that it calls for three different kinds of sweetener, namely, golden syrup, thick honey, and muscovado (or light brown) sugar. You might think that these sweeteners will be too much but they actually each bring a different flavor to baked goods, and together, they give this cake real depth and warmth. And since the plums are not the sweetest of fruits, this cake will taste just right – do not change any of the components and if you can, use a good, thick and wonderful local honey in the batter, it will be even more of a delicious autumnal treat!

Nigel Slater's Plum Pudding Cake
(as adapted from Tender, Volume II)

Ingredients for the Cake Batter
  • 250 grams (2 cups) AP flour
  • one slightly heaped tsp baking powder
  • one level tsp baking soda
  • one slightly heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • one slightly heaped tsp ground ginger
  • one pinch of fine sea salt
  • 200 grams (2/3 cups) golden syrup
  • 2 heaped tbsp thick honey
  • 125 gram (1 stick plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, plus some for buttering the baking pan
  • 125 grams (3/4 cup) muscovado sugar (you can substitute light brown sugar)
  • 350 grams (12 ounces) plums (I used green “Reine Claude plums" but feel free to use other vatieties)
  • 2 eggs (L), organic or free range if possible
  • 240 ml (1 cup) whole milk, room temperature

Ingredients for the Plum Topping
  • 5 plums (or more, depending on whether you would like to have some extra for serving)
  • one tbsp light muscovado (or light brown sugar) sugar
  • one tbsp unsalted butter
  • one tbsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger (you could also substitute a bit of ground ginger)

Baking Equipment
  • a 24 cm (8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch) square baking pan
  • parchment paper (unbleached if possible)

For Serving (optional)
  • clotted cream, crème double/double cream 

Preparation of the Cake

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Use parchment paper to line your 24 cm (8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch) square baking pan.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a large bowl.
4. In a small saucepan, combine the golden syrup, honey and butter  and melt over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
5.When the butter has melted completely, stir in the muscovado (or light brown sugar) sugar. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
6. Halve the plums, or cut them into quarters and remove the stones.
7. Whisk together eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
8. Add the syrup-butter mixture to the flour and stir to combine.
9. Pour the egg-milk into the flour mixture and continue to stir, until you have no more traces of flour left.
10. Pour the batter into the baking pan. NOTE: the batter will be liquidy!
11. Evenly distribute the plum quarters/halves across the top. NOTE: the plums will sink to the bottom.
12. Bake the cake for about 35 minutes, then cover loosely with foil and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or longer, depending on the ripeness of the plums used.
13. Transfer the baking pan to a wire rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before lifting the cake out of the baking pan.
14. While the cake is cooling, you can prepare the plum topping.

Preparation of the Plum Topping

1. Halve and de-stone the plums (you can also quarter the plums) and place them in a saucepan.
2. Add the sugar, butter and the syrup from a jar of crystallised ginger (or ground ginger) and stir.
3. Cover and leave to cook down for a while (time depends on how “cooked down” you want your plums to be).

Serving the Cake

1. Cut into squares.
2. Top each piece of cake with a dollop of cream and a generous topping of the spicy plums.
3. Serve any remaining plum topping on the side.


  • This recipe was adapted from "Tender: Volume II - A Cook`s Guide to the Fruit Garden" (Sep. 16, 2010) Nigel Slater (Author), Jonathan Lovekin (photographer), available at The US edition is called “Ripe – A Cook in the Orchard” (April 10, 2012 and is available at
  • Muscovado sugar and golden caster sugar from Tate & Lyle (available for example at

Substitutions for Golden Syrup:

Combine two parts light corn syrup plus one part molasses OR equal parts honey and corn syrup OR maple syrup. If you like, try reducing the corn syrup in a saucepan to thicken it. NOTE: This is thinner and not quite as sweet or flavorful as golden syrup.


  1. I had not used plums in baking until Dorie introduced them to me. And I'm glad she did. This cake looks delicious. My birthday is coming up--this could be 'the cake'.

    1. Cindy, thank you very much - plums are absolutely wonderful in baking, they really turn into pure deliciousness when baking! I am sure that you would enjoy this cake. I found some late season plums yesterday and will be making it again today.

  2. I love the deep, spicy flavor of dark cakes. My great-grandmother made a very old-fashioned plum pudding. Though I never used fresh plums before in this type of cakes, they sound like a great addition. The whole cake sounds incredible Andrea! Have a great weekend

    1. Paula, thank you - these dark gingerbread-like cakes are just the right cakes to serve in autumn and we love their depth of flavor.

  3. moist and fantastic! Beautifully done, my friend~

  4. This cake looks wonderful. I adore plums and love baking with them!

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know - glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  5. I think Nigel Slater's a genius and this is SO delicious - your photos are gorgeous - a perfect autumnal cake!!
    Mary x

    1. Mary, thank you - autumnal cakes are just the best and plums are so abundant in September - it is hard to resist baking with them.

  6. This looks incredible. I've been thinking about buying Nigel Slater's books for a while now. Your cake posts are really making me want the book!

    1. Jora, if you need another cookbook on the Christmas wish list - I would suggest you add this one to it, it is wonderful!

  7. I think plums are the best when they are baked. I've had some sweet plums that were delicious by themselves but I have to say when they are baked they go beyond just delicious. Very nice pudding cake, Andrea!

    1. Nami, you are absolutely right, plums turn into a heavenly bliss when incorporated into baked goods - and the smell from the kitchen while the pudding cake is baking is hard to beat.

  8. Hi Andrea! I want to make this recipe with the Italian plums I just bought. Do you think this will freeze well? Hope you are having a great summer holiday. Marlise

    1. Marlise, nice to hear from you - hope all is well with you and the kids. Yes, you can use Italian plums for this British style plum pudding cake - the freezing part is another issue. Some of my friends regularly freeze plum cake but I have never done so because the defrosted cake can be rather soggy because plums are juicy - but some bakers do not mind a bit of "sogginess" - it is worth a try, I would say! You could also stick the defrosted cake in the oven for re-heating for a few minutes. Thank you for your interest in this recipe and for asking - do let me know if you need any other information!

    2. OK. I am going to try it. I'll let you know how it turns out. I love the idea of a gingerbread cake.
      The kids are starting Kindergarten next week. They are excited, and so am I. Yeah!

    3. Delicious! I will try to blog about the cake this week, tonight, if I can. I loved the cake. I sprinkled powdered sugar on top of it and it was wonderful. It would also be great with apples instead of the plums. I am going to freeze the rest of it and bring it to a dinner next week. Thanks for blogging about it.

    4. Marlise, thank you for letting me know about the cake - I am so very glad that this turned out so delicious for you and I am glad that you got a chance to try out this wonderful recipe. I will be baking my first plum cake of the season today and I am really looking forward to enjoying a slice this afternoon - thanks, again, for giving me such kind feed-back!