This cake is triple in two ways: three layered, involving three different “plum” elements. Don’t let the multiple components let it come across as threatening: this cake is very simple to make. I find cooking thinner cakes for layering almost simpler (as long as you have three, or at least two of the same size cake tins) as the cooking time is shortened and the end result vastly more impressive. Something about piling cakes one on top of the other tends to make people very excited – and the look of the layers teeming with filling is so much more exciting than simply dolloping some cream on the side, no? I have been so enthused about this particular cake that I’ve made it twice in one week.
Now, I’m not a great chocolate cake fan, so perhaps I have a biased opinion, but this plum cake is absolutely epic. The dense vanilla almond cake is almost friand-like, and marries so well with the tart sweetness of the Black Doris plums. The sweetness of the poached plums is offset by the mascarpone cream filling. The ground almonds lend the cake to being a superb gluten free celebration cake with no sacrifice in texture, moistness or tenderness of cake crumb. The cake, soak and plum puree can be easily prepared the day beforehand, making assembling of the cake on the day as simple as softly whipping up some cream.
triple plum layer cake
- 200g butter, softened
- 250g caster sugar
- 250g ground almonds
- 6 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 175g gluten free or plain flour (add 1/2 tsp xanthan gum if not in your gluten free flour mix)
- 3 Black Doris plums
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 60g caster sugar
- 6 Black Doris plums
- 125ml (1/2 cup) double cream
- 60ml (1/4 cup) plum puree
- 200g mascarpone cheese (alternatively use creme fraiche)
- 30g icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 320F/160C bake setting. Grease and line three 8 inch springform cake tins.
- With a hand-held or free-standing mixer with the whisk attachment, cream the butter and first measurement of sugar at high speed until pale and fluffy. At medium speed, gradually add the ground almonds.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Mix through the baking powder and vanilla essence.
- On low speed, add the flour until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
- Scrape the batter into the cake tins, dividing into thirds. Spread out evenly in the tins using an offset spatula. Top one of the cake layers (this will be the top) with pieces of the plums (I cut mine into eighths) tossed in the tablespoon of caster sugar.
- Bake the cakes for 40 minutes, or until golden on the top and a skewer comes out clean. Remove to cool on a wire rack for half an hour before removing completely from cake tins.
Plum puree/cake soak
- While the cakes are baking, prepare the plum puree. Quarter the plums and mix with the caster sugar in a small saucepan. Cook the plums over a low heat, stirring frequently, until they are falling apart and skins are starting to come off.
- Remove from heat, pour off the liquid syrup, reserving for soaking the bottom and middle cake layers.
- Prick holes all over the cakes while they are still warm and brush or drizzle with a spoon the plum liquid all over the tops of the bottom and middle cake layers (i.e. the two that have not been topped with fresh plums).
- In a food processor, pulse the cooked plums on high until they become a thick, beautifully purple liquid. Store in a clean container or jar in the fridge until ready to assemble the cake.
- Whip the cream in a medium bowl until it is just starting to form soft peaks. Fold through the mascarpone cream, a quarter cup of the plum puree and the 30g of icing sugar to gently combine.
- Place your soaked bottom cake layer on a cake board or serving dish. Top with half of the mascarpone filling, using an offset spatula to spread out evenly, right to the edges. Ladle half of the remaining plum puree messily over the cake, aiming to drizzle some down the sides of the cake.
- Place the middle cake layer on top of the filling and repeat step 1.
- Top with the plum-adorned top layer and dust with icing sugar. Decorate with crushed meringues and edible flowers if desired. Store in the refrigerator for up to a day prior to serving.