This recipe is directly from ‘More Food That Really Schmecks’ by Edna Staebler (1979). It is an absolute favourite in the KB kitchen, and plum season cannot pass without it appearing. (Freeze plums that have been cut in half and make this all year round!) See Notes below for an update - I now make this with other seasonal fruits as well, so no need to wait for plum season.

This looks more like a traditional coffee cake when made in a 9-10" round pan (I use a spring-form). By "traditional" I mean a good 1.5-2" base of cake with the plums on top. But... I often make two smaller cakes using 8" spring form pans. It technically enables me to use more plums, and it's a extra cake that I can "gift" to friends or family (or freeze).


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. 
  • Prepare / grease (or butter) cake pan – 9” x 9” square; or one 9-10 “ round; or 2 smaller 8" round pans. (I like to use spring-form pans.)
  • Bring eggs, butter for cake, milk and plums to room temperature. 
  • Separate 2 eggs.
  • Sift together dry ingredients.
  • Measure out 1/2 cup milk
  • Prepare plums by cutting in half and removing pit - use enough plums to cover the surface of the cake(s)
  • Prepare crumb topping

Crumb Topping

½ cup brown sugar
2 TB flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup butter (cold)

(Note - lately I have begun to cut this in half; the brown sugar blobs can hide the beautiful colour of the fruit you are using. The taste does not seem to suffer and if you feel the need to add some sweetness - then do the final step of an icing sugar glaze.)  Use fork to combine into crumbs for cake topping. Even though using cold butter, this might become "blobby", so make it first and refrigerate until needed. Once cool again it is easier to crumble and spread evenly.

Batter step 1. Beat 2 egg whites to soft, peaks - set aside for a moment until the step when you incorporate this into the creamed batter.

Batter step 2.

¼ cup butter (room temp)
1 cup sugar    
2 egg yolks

Cream together butter, sugar and egg yolks.

Batter step 3.

1.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt  

½ cup milk

Sift together dry ingredients.

Add milk to creamed mixture (as in step 2 above), alternating with dry ingredients.

Batter step 4. Fold egg whites into mixture.  Pour batter into prepared pan. Place plums neatly on top with cut side down. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. (40 minutes is enough if using two smaller round pans.)

Optional Glaze: Blend together 3/4 cups icing sugar, 1 TB cream or milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract. (in truth, I have never bothered with these extra calories... though I suppose it would make it look even prettier.)

Notes and Tips...

  • How much fruit - Edna never specified, stating only to cover the cake. As I have said I use even more than she might have since I usually make two smaller rounds. Here's a tip. Before greasing / buttering the pan you are using, prep the fruit and create a layer on the bottom of the pan. Dump it into another container until needed and then grease / butter the baking pan.
  • Plums - if using frozen plums, defrost them first on paper towels - they will absorb extra moisture.
  • Variations - recently I began to make this as a rhubarb cake. I covered the batter with rhubarb cut into 1/2" pieces and then, just to pretty it up, poured about 1/4 cup of melted strawberry or raspberry (red) jam over the rhubarb before sprinkling with crumble. A big hit - and now I plan to try this with every fruit that comes along! Latest update - peaches work great!
  • Make fresh - we all know that fruit coffee cakes are ideal when they are fresh. Everything for this can be prepped ahead of time - the crumble topping can even be made the day before. Then it comes together quickly, is baking while guests arrive, and by the time everyone is settled you have a gorgeous fresh, still warm coffee cake. Enjoy!
  • Prep Ahead - you could make the crumb topping, and cut up the plums the day before.
  • For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.

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