The New York Times Plum Torte

The New York Times Plum Torte is an iconic recipe that's incredibly easy to make and is a perfect way to use up beautiful in season summer plums. It's is dense, yet light, super moist, not too sweet and great with a cup of coffee or tea.  

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A blue plate with a piece of plum torte and a fork.

This Plum Torte recipe by Marian Burros was first printed in The New York Times in October of 1982 and continued to run every single September for the remainder of the decade. People were upset - so the Times printed it one last time and later included it in the Essential New York Times Cook Book by Amanda Hesser.

It doesn't seem like anything special, but it is - and you'll understand once you taste it. The fruit is sweet-tart and jammy, with just enough firmness to still know that it's a plum.

The deep purple hue bleeds all throughout the batter, and it tastes light but still has a dense chewy crumb that makes it completely addictive. It's elegant enough to serve to company but easy enough for a weeknight.

It's also an extremely versatile recipe. No plums? Make it with literally any other kind of fruit that's in season. I even developed a version of this torte with ground cherries.

Why this recipe works

  • Easy, beginner friendly recipe - anyone can make this.
  • Made in one bowl, no electric mixer needed.
  • Simple ingredients, simple measurements.
  • Adaptable with any other fruit.

Ingredient Notes

  • Plums - The original New York Times recipe from Marian Burros calls for using small Italian plums (also called prune plums), but I can rarely ever find them. I have made this torte with red plums, black plums, purple plums, pluots and all other types of fruit. It turns out great every time.

Helpful Equipment

A whole cake with jammy fruit throughout.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Cream butter and 1 cup of sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. You can use an electric mixer, but I find a wooden spoon and a little elbow grease to the job just fine.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  4. Arrange the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter, then use your fingers to gently press them in. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the fruit, then mix together the remaining tablespoon of sugar and ground cinnamon, and sprinkle over the top.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Slice into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or on its own. The cake is also excellent served cold after chilling in the fridge overnight.
A piece of plum torte on a blue plate

Tips for Success

  • Depending on how sweet your plums are and how sweet you like your cake, the sugar can be cut down to ¾ cup.
  • You will use more or less plums depending on the variety and size, but also depending on your preference. I tend to use more plums for a jammier, fruitier cake, almost like a buckle, but you can always opt to use less.
  • If you're not using a springform pan, line your cake pan with parchment paper or foil so you can lift it out after baking to make slicing easier.
  • Try this torte with a different fruit altogether! It's a forgiving recipe and works well with just about everything, especially other stone fruit like peaches and nectarines.
  • You can replace half of the all purpose flour with almond flour for an even denser chewier crumb.
  • The beauty of this recipe is in the simplicity of its flavors. You might be tempted to add vanilla extract, almond extract, nuts or different spices, but I promise it's better as is.

Faq About Plum Torte

What's the difference between a cake and a torte?

A torte is a style of cake that is typically made with more eggs and less flour (or no flour at all). Tortes tend to be richer and more dense than a standard cake.

How to store a Plum Torte and how long will it stay fresh?

Store this Plum Torte tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for longer storage - double wrap it in foil then place in a tightly sealed plastic bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

Did you LOVE this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and comment to let other readers know! I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing your creations so please tag me on Instagram @ColeyCooks!

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A blue plate with a piece of plum torte and a fork.
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The New York Times Famous Plum Torte (Video!)

The New York Times Plum Torte is an iconic recipe that's incredibly easy to make and is a perfect way to use up beautiful in season summer plums. It's is dense, yet light, super moist, not too sweet and great with a cup of coffee or tea.  
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 294kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon divided*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6-12 plums depending size, pitted and halved**
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. You can use an electric mixer, but I find a wooden spoon and a little elbow grease to the job just fine.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated.
  4. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt until just combined.
  5. Spread the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  6. Arrange the halved plums cut-side-down, then use your fingers to gently press them into the batter.
  7. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit, then mix together the remaining tablespoon of sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the top.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cake to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes prior to cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature. The cake is also excellent served cold after chilling in the fridge overnight.

Notes

  • *Depending on how sweet your plums are and how sweet you like your cake, the sugar can be cut down to ¾ cup.
  • **You will use more or less plums depending on the variety and size, but also depending on your preference. I tend to use more plums for a fruitier cake, but you can always opt to use less for a cakier-cake. You can't go wrong either way, trust me.

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 216mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 585IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1mg

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95 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have made this a few times, always with the suggested almond flour substitution. It's light yet chewy and this time will be served with our homemade vanilla bean ice cream. I think we'll be famous now. 5 🌟 Stars

    1. I have never tried it so I'm not sure how it would turn out. If you are looking to try a non-dairy substitute, try vegan butter. Hope this helps!

  2. 5 stars
    So delicious! The plums I had were hard and quite tastless so it was a wonderful surprise that the torte was so tasty, It's easy to make and I will be making this again and again.

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and easy to make for such a delicious result. I did add a little vanilla since I love it. But it isn't really needed since its the sweet and sour plums also g with the sugary lemony sweetness with the cinnamon were enough. A keeper

  4. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! In my wheelhouse of entertainment recipes as well as just cozy, fruity desserts for the fall. Looking forward to using other fruits as suggested, but really love the plums.

    It DOES make for a delicious breakfast pastry as well. Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    Hello,
    I’d like to retract my comment about the original plum torte . I see that Marian did post her recipe originally. I’m sorry.
    Stang

  6. 5 stars
    As a vegan, I subsituted the two eggs with Bob's Red Mill (powdered) egg subsitute, and Miyokos' Cultutred Cashew butter. The result was incredible.The top of the torte was crunchy and the insides were gooey with a jammy feel. We put a small amount of cold almond milk in our bowl and placed a warm slice of the torte on top. Incredible!

    1. So glad you loved the recipe, Angela, and were able to make it work with vegan substitutes! Thanks for letting me know about them. 🙂

    1. Hi Emily - thanks for your question! The sifting is actually not a necessary step, you don't have to worry about it. Just add the dry ingredients and mix to combine - I edited the recipe to say this, thanks to your question. I hope you give this recipe a try, it's very forgiving and perfect for a non-baker. 🙂 Let me know if you give it a try!

  7. 5 stars
    This Iconic recipe sure is fun to make and to read comments from several sources about Marion Burrows! It is delicious even with ;ess sugar than the original, I might try it with 2/3 of a cup of sugar.I used 2 larger plums, cut into8ths. Will add a few more the next time with this beautiful black plum that I like and is available!

    1. So happy you love the recipe! I have made it with all different types of plums and the black plums are my favorite so far. 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    I made this with red plums in less than 10 min for my friend's cafe. I had all the ingredients out and she gave me a bag of plums, I found this recipe and viola! Plum Torte. I went home and decided to make one with peaches I had on hand, subbed some almond flour, added almond extract and toasted sliced almonds on top, delicious! So easy and versatile! The Plum Torte at the cafe flew out the door and my Peach didn't last more than 2 days. I will be making this cake forever, just changing up the fruit.

  9. 5 stars
    I made a similar cake just yesterday and it was really tasty. It's my favourite fruitcake :~>
    If you don't make 2x or 3x recipe, you'll regret it, that's how good it tastes.

  10. 5 stars
    Loved this! Used black plums and King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure flour. Was wonderful warm with ice cream and cold from the fridge. I will put some foil around the bottom of my springform pan next time as mine leaked a little.

  11. 5 stars
    Just a quick question! Can I use frozen plums and if so, shall I defrost first (they do go mushy)? This torte could be the solution to my packed freezer! Thanks in advance

    1. I have not tried it with frozen plums, but I'm sure they would work. I would defrost them first, at least slightly, as they cake might not bake up correctly if they're still frozen. Please report back if you try!

  12. 5 stars
    I still have the yellowed NYT clipping from 1982 and I can't tell you how many times I've made this over the years. It's always a winner! Never had the courage to try fruits other than plums. Why mess with perfection?

  13. 5 stars
    This recipe is just delicious! I usually can’t stand when people change the recipe, but I have to say, if anyone wants to know, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2c. white granulated sugar is delicious, and I’ve made this twice in the last week. Half plums and half blueberries is so tasty also! Thank you so very much for a wonderful recipe!

  14. 5 stars
    This cake is beautiful! The crumb is so soft and melts.
    I made 1 1/2 dose and baked it in a square pan 23x23cm lined with paper. Took an hour almost to the dot.
    . I reduced the sugar by 1/3, added 1/4tsp of almond essence to the batter along with the vanilla and juice of 1 lemon.
    The crumb is so tender and light. It is about 3-4cm tall once baked so lots of cake at the bottom.
    Lining the plums in lines made it easy to cut very neatly..
    Have saved this recipe to use with other fruits.

  15. 5 stars
    Can I make this the day ahead to serve on Thanksgiving. Should I refrigerate and let it come to room temperature or just cover it and leave it on the counter overnight.

    1. Yes, absolutely! I would definitely refrigerate it and either let it come to room temperature or serve it cold (I LOVE the texture when it's straight from the fridge!)