Plum & Almond cake


Victoria plums from Kent

British Food Fortnight  started yesterday 18th September and runs until the 3rd October.

Events across the country have been arranged not only promoting British food but also  how to enjoy it and learn more about it. Check for more details and to find out what’s happening near you.

My friend, the rural artisan and fellow Women’s Food & Farming Union London branch member, Sally Scantlebury, is staging an exhibition in St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch entitled “Art you can Eat” with a special open evening on 30th September from 5-9pm entitled “Daily Bread” .

For more information e-mail Sally at .

This time of year it is impossible, I think, to be unmoved by the sight of abundant produce at local farmers’ market: plums, greengages, the last blackberries, courgettes, aubergines, the first English apples such as Discovery and Worcester Pearmain and ofcourse mushrooms.

I remember being given a Discovery apple as part of my packed lunch at the start of the new school year in September; because of their attraction to wasps, we called Discoveries “wasp apples”.

Victoria plums, like the ones in the picture above, are best for the kitchen rather than eating raw: a cake, a tart with almonds or marzipan, plum sauce, a compote to be eaten with ice cream or cream or thick Greek yoghurt and ofcourse jam.

Here’s a recipe, loosely based on Nigel Slater’s, for a fresh plum & almond cake which works equally well as a coffee/tea cake or dessert.

I saw a very similar cake in the window of Ottolenghi’s deli on Westbourne Grove, London, at the weekend, but made in a large square tin.  It looked really good and makes a nice change from ubiquitous round cakes, so use that (or even a large loaf tin) if you prefer.

I used a 20cm round spring form, lined with a sheet of aluminium foil (you can also use baking parchment) and lightly buttered.

Plum & Almonds cakes ready for the oven

This is what you need:

Serves 12

150g butter at room temperature

150g  unrefined golden caster sugar

15 plums, cut in quarters

3 large eggs

75g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp almond essence

100g ground almonds

50g finely chopped almonds (blanched or with skin on – it doesn’t matter)

This is what you do:

  1. pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4
  2. using a food mixer, beat the butter + sugar until so pale and fluffy it looks like vanilla ice cream
  3. break the eggs in a mug + beat lightly with a fork
  4. add the eggs to the butter + sugar, mixing in the egg mixture before adding more
  5. add the almond essence
  6. sift the flour + baking powder over the bowl and fold gently into the mixture with a large metal spoon
  7. fold in the grounds almonds, followed by the chopped almonds
  8. scrape the mixture into the prepared baking tin
  9. place the quartered plums onto the cake mixture; avoid overloading the centre or this part of the cake will remain runny. The plums will sink into the mixture as the cake bakes.
  10. bake for 50 minutes, then test for “doneness” with a skewer: if it comes out clean, without wet cake mixture sticking to it, the cake is ready
  11. remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes or so before turning out

Happy baking!


Food glut: plums

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