Original Plum Torte Recipe (2024)

By Marian Burros

Original Plum Torte Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 15 minutes
Read community notes

The Times published Marian Burros’s recipe for Plum Torte every September from 1983 until 1989, when the editors determined that enough was enough. The recipe was to be printed for the last time that year. “To counter anticipated protests,” Ms. Burros wrote a few years later, “the recipe was printed in larger type than usual with a broken-line border around it to encourage clipping.” It didn’t help. The paper was flooded with angry letters. “The appearance of the recipe, like the torte itself, is bittersweet,” wrote a reader in Tarrytown, N.Y. “Summer is leaving, fall is coming. That's what your annual recipe is all about. Don't be grumpy about it.” We are not! And we pledge that every year, as summer gives way to fall, we will make sure that the recipe is easily available to one and all. The original 1983 recipe called for 1 cup sugar; the 1989 version reduced that to ¾ cup. We give both options below. Here are five ways to adapt the torte.

Featured in: Eating Well

  • or to save this recipe.

  • Subscriber benefit: give recipes to anyone

    As a subscriber, you have

    10 gift recipes to give each month. Anyone can view them - even nonsubscribers.

    Learn more.


  • Print Options

    Include recipe photo



Yield:8 servings

  • ¾ to 1cup sugar
  • ½cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2eggs
  • 24halves pitted purple plums
  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

364 calories; 13 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 60 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 45 grams sugars; 5 grams protein; 81 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Powered by

Original Plum Torte Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Step


    Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

  3. Step


    Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

  4. Step


    Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)


  • To freeze, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag and seal.



out of 5


user ratings

Your rating

or to rate this recipe.

Have you cooked this?

or to mark this recipe as cooked.

Private Notes

Leave a Private Note on this recipe and see it here.

Cooking Notes


Hi - I'd like clarification on the flour --- 1 C flour, sifted - is that one cup of flour and sift and add, or sift the flour to equal one cup of flour - makes a difference. Thank you.

Jan Wong

In 1988 my Toronto newspaper was about to post me to Beijing as a foreign correspondent. Alas, my house wasn't selling. I'd read that the fragrance of baking helps so I bought a frozen loaf of bread, and warmed it in the oven. No sale. Desperate, I baked this torte for an open house. Ta-dah! With the kitchen infused with the sweet perfume of Original Plum Torte, the house sold.


Sifted flour means sift then measure.
Flour, sifted means measure them sift.


Hello, i'm from Russion Federation. This is exellent. I'm cooced it every weekend. My children very liked this pie. I not very well know English. Sorry for mistake. From Russia with love ;)


Made this last night after tasting the one made by our daughter. Used raspberries and blackberries, one basket each, instead of plumbs, and 1/3 c. cornmeal and 2/3 c. flour. Fantastic!!! The cornmeal adds a very sophisticated "Italian" character to it, very slight crunch, and amazing flavor. Topped with coarse sugar before baking. Did this in a motorhome convection oven for 50 minutes. Perfect dessert with whipped cream, flavored with a few pureed berries and sugar/vanilla. So easy!


This was GREAT. Sliced the plums and arranged them in a fan pattern -- better than halves because prettier and more evenly distributed over cake. Added lemon zest and sliced slivered almonds. Next time I would toss the plums in the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, almonds, and cinnamon, because the cinnamon and the zest clumped up when sprinkled. Will also experiment with other fruits.


A nice recipe for Obstkuchen, the German-speaking bakers' classic! I grew up on this cake and have been making it for many, many years now. It can be made with any neutral vegetable oil too. Use any kind of nice fruit or berries, just make sure that they are firm, otherwise they can release too much juice during baking. Also, grease the the round or square pan, line the bottom with parchment and grease that one too. No springform required, but it's nice if you have one.

J. David Nelson

A 9" pan gives greater height and moisture to the tart than a 10" pan.

Jen in Astoria

Note: My Mom makes this all the time and it's a family and guest favorite. It freezes PHENOMENALLY well--her usual tactic is to wait until it's cool, then into the fridge, THEN when it's really cool you wrap it first in plastic wrap and then in foil REALLY well, like you're launching it into space, and then into the freezer. Also works for leftover torte. If you have more than 1 springform pan make 2 and freeze one for Emergency Company Cake.


A delicious and indeed elegant torte. I have made it twice with these alterations: 50% almond meal; 50%brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. It also freezes well.


Torte, schmorte. It's a delicious, homey dessert you can bake in just about anything - though a springform pan does make for a somewhat ritzier presentation - and top with whatever fruit is in season. My Polish mother made it in a rectangular metal pan all summer long (mmm...placek!), though the household favorite WAS the Italian/prune plum iteration. She used grated lemon rind and 1 t. vanilla in the batter, tightly-spaced skin-side down fruit, and ground cloves instead of cinnamon atop.


Plums must have been a lot smaller in 1982. I only needed 4 plums (8 halves).

The size of the pan is also going to affect cooking time, rise height, and so on. I used a 9" pan and increased the recipe for the batter to 1 1/2 times. Perfect.

It only took 45 minutes to cook. It would have burned if I'd left it an hour like it said. I could smell it and tested with a toothpick and stopped at 45 minutes when it came out clean.

Sue Llewellyn

Springform or not, shouldn't we grease (butter) the pan?


Dear god, this is good.


My favorite recipe from NYT - annual ritual for 20 years!
Baked with - apricots, apples and cranberries when off season.
Also used half whole wheat flour and was perfect. This year sliced the plums thinly and layerd tightly like rose petals - still the best.


We have two Italian plum trees, so we make this often. You can also make with frozen plum halves, or you can make and freeze the torte itself. I have never met a person that didn't like it. It's dessert, it's breakfast, it's a snack!


For the love of God, can we please specify weights in grams ?? The cuppa cuppa cuppa days are over, It's time to catch up.

Mary Jo

Less sugar is just as good. Great recipe to use up fresh Italian plums from the tree. Frozen plums work fine too.


This is a no fail cake. Everybody loves it no matter how you tweak it. Today it was subbing 1/3 of the flour with corn meal and blueberries/fresh apricots instead of plums. A little vanilla ice cream on the side doesn’t hurt either.


Yup, a winner. Delicious, easy, and so versatile as you can see by reading all the notes. One thing I’ve done successfully that I haven’t seen noted is using dried fruit. I soak dried plums (or any fruit) in liquor for several hours and use those instead of fresh. Also delicious! The best liquor I’ve used is a sweet, spiced pear cordial but many others have worked well too (e.g., rum).


Original Plum Torte is my new favorite item. I’ve made three since I saw the recipe - plums! All sorts. Sweet. But this time I made it with black figs! Yum. Lemon juice and sugar and cinnamon liberally. You can’t “pour” the batter. I’d say “spoon” but you can also add a little bit of milk. Best at room temp or cold.


Tried this for thanksgiving but was very disappointed. It didn’t rise to the cake consistency shown in the photo but stayed flat - more like a plum cookie. I tried twice! Even after brand new baking powder and following the original recipe precisely, the second version was the same (in the first attempt I tried a recommended alteration and substituted 1/4 cup cornmeal for flour). Anyway, the flavor was good but I won’t make it again - there are too many other things to try.


Plums unavailable for the time being. Think I could use frozen peaches??!


Ok to cut sugar down to 2/3 cup


would like to make this with apples and cranberries, and I’m wondering for those who have already done so, do you cook the cranberries with sugar and drain? I’m putting them in whole they would release too much liquid and be way too tart. Advice?

Seattle Stef

Don’t make this. Make this instead - https://www.sugarsalted.com/easy-plum-streusel-coffee-cake/


Made as directed in 8 in springform pan. Although the top baked nicely the inside of the center of the cake was still batter-y! Not sure if I will try again.


I always have more plums than indicated for this, but I heap the fruit on anyway, wiggling the plums into the batter tightly. delicious!Followed others’ suggestions and loved this most:- cut sugar overall by 1/4 cup and did 1/2cup brown and 1/4 cup regular sugar - subbed half of the reg flour for almond flour - used juice of half a small lemon- light dusting of cinnamon across top before baking.


Has anyone tried this with frozen sour cherries?


I can't figure out the hype. I thought it was dry and basically tasteless.

Private notes are only visible to you.

Original Plum Torte Recipe (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gregorio Kreiger

Last Updated:

Views: 6016

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gregorio Kreiger

Birthday: 1994-12-18

Address: 89212 Tracey Ramp, Sunside, MT 08453-0951

Phone: +9014805370218

Job: Customer Designer

Hobby: Mountain biking, Orienteering, Hiking, Sewing, Backpacking, Mushroom hunting, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Gregorio Kreiger, I am a tender, brainy, enthusiastic, combative, agreeable, gentle, gentle person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.