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British Victoria plums are among the best plums in the world. Use ripe but reasonably firm fruits for this cake, which is perfect, served with afternoon coffee or tea. It is best served slightly warm with ice cold, lightly whipped cream. If you donít want to include alcohol, substitute the fortified wine for milk.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180į/gas mark 4.

2. Halve the plums and remove the stone. If the plums are very large, cut into quarters.

3. Butter a 21cm/8 inch spring form tin, cut out a round of greaseproof paper to fit the base and butter again.

4. Arrange the halved or quartered plums in the base of the tin.

5. Melt the butter. Whisk the egg and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Add the melted butter and vanilla essence.

6. Mix the flour with the salt and baking powder and sift into the egg mixture. Stir gently, add the Sherry and stir gently again.

7. Bake the cake in the lower 1/3 of the oven for approximately 35 minutes. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before opening the tin and removing the cake.

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6 large, ripe plums

90g/3 oz unsalted butter

3 free-range eggs

180g/6 oz caster sugar

180g/6 oz plain white flour

4-5 drops vanilla essence

1 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

150ml/5 fl oz sweet Sherry or Madeira

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