Marion Burro’s famous purple plum torte

perfect plum torte

Marrion Burro’s famous purple plum torte is one of those recipes you see floating around the internet from time to time and always wonder if it really can be as good as it’s made out to be. I mean it’s a basic cake batter plus plums. Anyway, it’s been at the back front of my mind to make soon as stone fruits started coming into season. This is the best recipe you can make using a batch of plums and the best plum cake in the world. There I said it!

perfect plum torte

perfect plum torte

I spotted these super small plums last week which looked perfect for the recipe, but in my over-eagerness, I didn’t stop to question their ripeness. Sadly they were not yet in their prime. It would be ideal to use ripe Italian prune plums, but if you can’t find these then use whatever ripe plums you can find. Do what I didn’t do, and eat them first to see what they taste like. 

perfect plum torte

Despite this, it’s absolutely sensational and I can immediately see why it became so famous and probably regarded as the best plum torte ever made. You can read the back story of the origins of the recipe where I first spotted it on the fabulous Smitten Kitchen.

perfect plum torte

The batter is ridiculously easy to make especially if you have a stand mixer. Halving and pitting the 12 or so plums becomes the hardest part of the job. The plums turn into gooey, jammy pools in the cake and the cinnamon sugar topping adds a lovely flavour and texture. I made it the day before which is advised, the flavour develops overnight and I can’t wait to bake it again as soon as I find riper plums. I also have a few recipe variations to this perfect recipe up my sleeve. This one is a keeper.

I’m mad about plums so here are a few of my favourite recipes:

Easy plum tarte tatin

The best easy plum muffins

Roast plum ice cream with cinnamon & bay

Easy plum and frangipane galette

Marian Burros’ Famous Purple Plum Torte ~ from Elegant but Easy and The Essential New York Times Cookbook,

The famous purple plum torte

Marian Burros’ Famous Purple Plum Torte recipe is the best thing you can make with plums. It's so easy and delicious.
Print Recipe
The famous plum torte from Marion Burro
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes


  • 3/4 cup / 150gms granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for the topping depending on the sweetness of plums
  • 1/2 cup 115 gms butter, at room temperature (add a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter)
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1 cup /125 grams of all-purpose flour or cake flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 12 small Italian prune plums or other small ripe plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp or a little more ground cinnamon for the topping


  • Preheat over to 180-C / 350°F.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and 3/4 cup of sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. Add the dry ingredients and mix briefly until just combined.
  • Spoon the cake batter into a greased 23 cm / 9-inch springform cake tin with the bottom lined with baking paper and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, and skin side up evenly over the batter. Sprinkle the top with the lemon juice, then the cinnamon and the remaining two tablespoons of sugar
  • Bake until the cake is golden and a sharp knife inserted into the center part of the cake comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. If your cake is over-browning, loosely cover it with foil from about ¾ of the way through the baking time. Cool on rack.
  • Once cool, leave it at room temperature overnight before taking it out of the tin. You could serve this with whipped cream dolloped on top or with a light sifting of icing sugar.


Try and source ripe plums but if you can't, add a little extra sugar to compensate.
Serve this as a dessert with a dollop of cream.
Servings: 6
Author: Sam Linsell



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  1. i make this cake quite a lot as it works just as well with tinned plums as fresh ones. It is always well received and given how easy it is to make, it looks like you have gone to a lot more trouble than you actually have!

  2. Hi Peta – thanks for sharing. We dont get tinned plums in South Africa, so fresh all the way for us.

  3. Looks like my kinda party. Will def try it soon! x

  4. Thanks Ms Tutti Dolci x

  5. I’m loving this torte! Beautiful crumb and sweet plumbs. 😀

  6. Ingrid Wilson says:

    Could one use apples instead of plums?

  7. Rosemary Smith says:

    I made this recipe last night and substituted flour with gluten free flour for a dinner party with 2 wheat free guests. It was so delicious the crust is crunchy and the fruit is slightly tart. Everyone loved it! I still have some plums and am now baking another for a friend who is coming for tea…

  8. Glad to hear it went down well Rosemary – what flours did you use?

  9. Claire-Louise says:

    Sounds delicious! Does this cake freeze well?

  10. Hi Claire-Louise, this cake as with most sponge cakes should freeze well. Just wrap it tightly and thaw at room temperature. It is possible that the plums might become a little watery after the freeze-thaw process, but I haven’t tested it. I would say it will be fine though.

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