This Italian Yogurt Plum Cake made in one bowl is flavourful, satisfying, and simple to make. Made with yogurt and olive oil, the sponge is moist and flavourful. Baked with a layer of seasonal plums, this simple cake celebrates stone fruit season. It's perfect for family gatherings and as an afternoon snack.
When summer days are hot and warm, I am all about baking simple, flavour-packed cakes that use seasonal fruits. This delicious, Mediterranean cake is my go-to, family-favourite dessert. It makes the most wonderful cake to bring along to a picnic, enjoy in the afternoon or even for breakfast like the Italians!
The end of Summer/early fall plums are at their prime and look beautiful fanned out on top of this delightful cake. It's an absolute winner, and I hope you love it as much as we do! If you are a fan of baking with stone fruit, try out my Plum Frangipane Tart, Peach Crumble Bars, and French Peach Clafoutis for inspiration.
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Simple to make. Made in one bowl and with no electric mixer required, this is as simple as you could get when making a one-layer cake.
- It's so versatile. Swap out the plums for any stone fruit or berries for a different take on this fruit dessert.
- Family-friendly dessert. Get the kids involved in making this cake. It's easy to pull together, and they'll love helping lay the fruit on the top.
- This cake makes a fantastic last-minute dessert. This dessert takes only 10 minutes (max) to make, and you can serve warm cake to your guests.
- Stays moist. This cake does not dry out quickly. The olive oil and yogurt keep the texture moist for longer than a regular cake- plus boosts the flavour.
- Smells and tastes insane! The smell is intoxicating, and the taste most definitely does not disappoint. The slightly sharp cooked plums with the fuffy vanilla lemon cake are incredible.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
The ingredients used in this cake are everyday fridge and pantry ingredients that you'll most likely have on hand. Where possible, I provide alternatives for you to remain flexible when making this cake.
- Eggs - provide structure and, more importantly, moisture to the sponge. Make sure to whip them for the required time. Use room-temperature eggs so that they mix into the batter without curdling.
- Oil - Use a mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil rather than a peppery flavoured one which will overpower the taste. The taste of olive oil is there but subtly in the background. Use regular olive oil if you want a more indistinct taste. Substitute with neutral-tasting vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil for a milder taste to the sponge.
- Lemon and vanilla extract - Both these ingredients flavour the yogurt cake. The lemon zest adds a beautiful, subtle citrus flavouring but can be left out. The vanilla extract is a must to add a lovely depth of flavour to the sponge. Vanilla bean paste or the seeds of a vanilla pod can be used as substitutes.
- Plums - In season, you can use small Italian plums or any regular red, yellow, or black-skinned variety available. Damson plums can also be used but bare in mind that they are a little tarter in taste.
🐄What Does Yogurt Do In This Plum Yogurt Cake?
Yogurt is a fantastic ingredient to use in your baking. Don't keep it just for your morning granola! Your future bakes will thank you.
The fat content in the yogurt enhances the texture but also the flavour of your sponge. It also adds moisture, meaning that this cake will last for days.
The acidity helps aerate the sponge creating a tender, light, and fluffy sponge. It acts similarly to buttermilk and produces a very slight tang to the overall taste, which balances out the sweetness of this cake perfectly. Substitute with sour cream or creme fraîche.
My French Yogurt Cake and Earl Grey Tea Cake are both made with a combination of yogurt and oil, and the texture achieved by these two ingredients is unparalleled. I always get compliments regarding the taste and texture, and I wholeheartedly attribute this to those two main ingredients and their impact.
Baking such a simple Plum Cake opens it up to plenty of different variations you can play around with. Here are some of my favourites:
- Use different citrus. Replace the lemon zest with orange zest Go so far as to toss the plums in orange juice for a more orange taste.
- Swap out the plums with stone fruit. Apricots, nectarines, and white or yellow peaches are perfect for adding instead of plums.
- Use berries instead. This is such a fantastic base recipe that you can add any berries. Instead of decorating the top of the cake with barriers, mix half through the batter. If using frozen berries, there is no need to thaw them first.
- Add nuts. Almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts or walnuts, toasted and chopped, are great sprinkled over the cake after baking.
- Add spice. Plums are a great transitional fruit from summer to fall. Bring out fall flavours by adding a teaspoon of ground ginger and cinnamon into the batter. The combination of fruit and spice is amazing!
- Bake in a different-sized pan. This cake bakes perfectly in a 2 lb loaf pan 23x14cm (9x5.5inch), or a square 20x20cm (8x8inch) or 23x23cm (9x9inch) brownie pan. The bake time will change according to the size of the pan that you use, so just keep an eye on it.
👩🏻🍳 How To Make Plum Cake
I'm obsessed with the simplicity of this cake. It's made in only a few simple steps. Got to love that for quick and simple baking.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
STEP 1. Prepare pan and lemon sugar. Grease the base and sides of a cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment paper (Image 1). You can use a cake pan or springform pan- both will do.
Rub lemon and sugar together. When using any citrus zest in baking, this is my biggest tip to get the most out of its flavour. (Image 2)
TIP: By adding the lemon zest to the sugar and using your fingers to rub the two together, you are releasing all the natural oils from the zest into the sugar. And this means more flavour!
STEP 2. Slice the plums. Using a paring knife, slice the plums into ¼'s or ⅛ths, depending on the size of your plums (Image 3). If they are large, then slice them into 8, or if you have smaller ones, then slice them into 4. You'll need a couple more if you're using smaller plums.
Your plums should be firm; otherwise, they'll squash when slicing them.
STEP 3. Whip the eggs, lemon sugar and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, using a whisk, whip the eggs and lemon sugar until they turn light, pale and aerated. If doing this by hand, don't whisk for less than a minute. We want lots of air in the mixture! This is your arm workout for the day! (Images 4 & 5)
STEP 4. Mix in yogurt and oil. Add the yogurt and the oil into the mixing bowl and whisk until just combined (Images 6 & 7).
STEP 5. Sift in dry ingredients. We're keeping it simple and sifting the dry ingredients directly into our mixing bowl (less washing up). Sift the flour, baking powder and salt through a fine-mesh sieve onto the whisked eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold through the wet mixture (Images 8 & 9).
There will be small lumps in the batter- this is totally fine - don't be tempted to try and get out these lumps as you'll end up over-mixing. This will result in a chewy, gummy cake sponge that is not nice (from personal experience!).
STEP 6. Pour into prepared pan. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top (Image 10). Give the pan a couple of taps on the work surface to release any bubbles.
Arrange plum slices and bake. Arrange the sliced plums on top of the batter, working your way from the outside edge into the centre. You can add as many or little plums as you like (Image 11). If you want to see the plums after baking, don't press them down. I love the effect of them on the top they look stunning!
Option: Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the cake as I have done. It adds sweetness but also a little crunch to the top once baked. This is an extra little touch that I recommend (Image 12).
Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes until golden brown (Image 13). It will be ready when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter. Or the centre of the sponge, when pressed gently, springs back.
Remove the pan from the oven and set it onto a wire rack for ten minutes. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and release the sides of the pan.
🥣 How To Serve
This Italian Yogurt Plum Cake is best eaten warm or at room temperature. Enjoy it as is or dust simply in icing sugar before serving.
My favourite way of serving this cake is with a dollop of creme friaîche and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios.
When serving it as a dessert, you can accompany it with a dollop of Chantilly Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream.
💭Recipe Pro Tips
Tip 1: Maximise the lemon flavour. Get the most out of your lemon zest by rubbing the zest and sugar together before making the batter. This releases the oils and adds flavour!
Tip 2: Use slightly under-ripe plums to hold their shape when baked. When buying, look for firm plums.
Tip 3: Room temperature ingredients. The eggs and greek yogurt should be at room temperature to emulsify well with the other ingredients. This will help with the overall tenderness in the sponge texture.
Tip 4: Don't over-mix the batter. Once the dry ingredients are added to the mixture, fold through gently so as not to knock out the air until a few flour streaks remain. Over-mixing will result in a chewy, gummy sponge, and we definitely don't want that.
Tip 5: Bake until just golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Overbaking leads to a dry sponge.
📋 Recipe FAQ's
Even though I haven't tried it, you can definitely substitute the yogurt for a plant-based alternative.
Absolutely delicious. The sponge has a well-rounded flavour from olive oil, vanilla and lemon. It's sweet but not too sweet. And the combination of these flavours alongside the slightly tart plums is a flavour sensation.
Flavoured yogurts more often than not, have more added sugar than greek yogurt. I find this makes the cake too sweet, and of course, the sponge tastes totally different due to the flavoured yogurt. So, technically, yes, you can use flavoured yogurt in this Italian Plum Cake, but I personally wouldn't recommend it.
You don't need to peel the plums at all. The skins soften whilst cooking, and the plum flesh turns soft and jammy. Plus, the skin of any fruit has additional nutritional benefits. The plum touching the metal cake pan caramelises and goes so sticky. (The best part!)
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To Store: This cake keeps exceptionally well due to the extra moisture from the oil and yogurt. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and then refrigerate for another couple of days. Note that the sponge will dry out in the refrigerator. This style of cake actually develops in flavour as the days go by! It makes a great make-ahead treat!
To Freeze: I wouldn't recommend it. This cake is definitely at its best enjoyed fresh or within the first couple of days.
There you have my delicious, simple plum cake recipe. As far as plum cake recipes go, it really is one of the best. The flavours scream Mediterranean summertime. If you can't make it to Italy, bring the best of Italy to your home with this homemade cake. You'll love it!
🍋 More Fruit Cake Recipes
If you've tried this Yogurt Plum Cake or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a 🌟 star rating whilst you're there!
Italian Yogurt Plum Cake Recipe
- 18cm (7-inch) spring form pan
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 1 lemon, zest
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 240 g Greek yogurt (or plain natural), room temperature
- 120 ml olive oil
- 250 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 3 large plums, washed, or 4-5 small plums
- Heat oven & prep pan: Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Grease the base and sides of a 18 cm (7-inch) springform or cake pan with butter, and line the base with parchment paper.
- Rub lemon and sugar together. Add the lemon zest to the bowl of sugar and rub the two together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist, lightly lemon coloured and filled with the lemon fragrance.
- Slice plums. Using a pairing knife, slice plums and remove the stone. Cut plums into ¼'s if they are small, or ⅛'s if they are large.
- Whisk eggs & sugar: In a large bowl, add the eggs, lemon sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until pale, light and bubbly - this takes approximately one minute.
- Mix in yogurt & oil: Add the yogurt and olive oil and whisk until fully combined.
- Sift in dry ingredients: Sift into the bowl the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold together gently: Using a spatula, fold gently until a few streaks of flour remain. Small lumps in the batter is totally fine. Don't be tempted to over-mix.
- Pour batter into pan and arrange fruit: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level with an offset spatula. Arrange plum slices over the sponge.Option: Sprinkle the top with demerara sugar.
- Bake: Bake on the centre shelf for 50-55 minutes until golden brown and the sponge springs back or a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, then cover in a tent of aluminium foil and continue to bake. Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes, run a butter knife around the edge and remove the cake from the pan to cool on a wire rack.Best enjoyed warm or at room temperature. Serve with a light dusting of powdered icing sugar, a sprinkling of toasted, chopped pistachios and a dollop of creme fraîche, whipped cream or scoop of ice cream. (optional)
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
Plums are gorgeous at the moment so this cake is perfect. Really easy to make. Don’t worry about there being lumps in the mix from the flour when you pour it in the tin - as Emma says in the post, don't worry as there aren’t lumps in the cake. I used veg oil so cake flavour was mild but delicious. Also not much washing up - a def winner!! Another gorgeous cake recipe from Emma.
Hi Rebecca, Thanks for the fab review and for loving this cake. Gotta love minimal washing up!! Emma xx
We loved this cake when I made it, ravenous hordes usually prevent me taking a photo which is a shame.........
Hi Gay - Ha ha - my lot devour this cake too. Thanks for the comment 🙂