Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Plums

By • September 4, 2013 32 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is adapted from Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Use perfectly ripe plums when you make this, as they have a way of being honest, true to themselves, in this cake -- if they're too firm, you'll notice later. (Did you get an unlucky pint anyway? Defer to Merrill.) And at the risk of making enemies with Alice Medrich, I will tell you that I've made this without sifting, and no one complained. Sift if you wish, you won't hear from me if you don't.
Kenzi Wilbur

Makes one 9-inch cake

  • Butter for pan
  • 1 cup fresh, full-fat ricotta
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9-10 small plums, halved, pitted, and set aside
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F, and butter and flour a 9-inch springform.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine and whisk the ricotta, oil, sugar, and zest together. Add one egg, whisk well; add the next, whisk again.
  3. Sift all of the dry ingredients -- save for the confectioner's sugar -- directly over the wet ingredients you just whisked together. Mix with a spoon gently until just combined. (Use more of a folding motion toward the end -- this will help keep the gluten from developing in your batter, which will keep your cake from toughening or becoming too dense.)
  4. Pour the batter into the cake pan, spreading it out evenly as needed. If your plums are very tart, toss them with a tablespoon of sugar or honey, and place them in the top of the cake, cut-side down. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the edges are pulling away from the pan, and a cake tester or toothpick comes out of the cake cleanly. (Depending on your oven, this could take up to 45 minutes.) Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out to finish cooling on a rack.
  5. Dust with confectioner's sugar, and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. This cake wouldn't be opposed to whipped cream or whipped mascarpone, either.

More Great Recipes: Ricotta|Plums|Breakfast|Desserts|Breakfast & Brunch

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Comments (32) Questions (4)


43 minutes ago Numfon Weidinger

I just finish baking this cake this morning. It was really delicious! I wish I can post a picture of my cake. Many thanks for the recipe.


5 months ago Marian Bull

I am making this sans plums right now, with 1/2 cup cornmeal subbed in for some of the flour! Can't wait to try. Will report back.


8 months ago Adriana

Has anyone made this with canned plums? I have some I canned this last year and I'm curious if that would work?


about 1 month ago Carol S.

Did you try them?


11 months ago misty

I have made this cake several times because it is easy and reliable. I used figs instead of plums, and baked it in a 10" springform pan, both with excellent results.


12 months ago carmenocal

Sorry, this: http://cooking.nytimes...


12 months ago carmenocal

I believe this is the progenitor of this cake. I made it last week, before it saw this, more interesting and just as easy version.


12 months ago PoloCocone Acuna

Really yummy cake!


about 1 year ago jawoleslodkie

This one is a wonderful and moist cake but it must stay in the oven for at least 45 minutes, otherwise it wobbles. Thank you for the recepie Kenzi, already on my fav list.


about 1 year ago Windischgirl

This was delicious, very moist, and kept well. I used fresh sliced peaches and a sprinkle of cinnamon in place of the plums. The lemon rind was a nice balance and kept the cake from being too sweet. Only thing, I would bake it in a larger pan; a 9-inch springform made a nice cake but it was well-browned on the outside while the inside was still underbaked. I think a 10-inch springform will make for more even baking.


almost 2 years ago ellemmdee

Plum season is over. What do you think about thinly sliced pears or well drained frozen peaches?


almost 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I'd try the pears!


almost 2 years ago dianepage

This cake is indeed quick, easy, delicious snacking cake and flexible - I have made it twice and the second time thought I had more plums than I did, so I completely changed the flavor profile by adding about 1c. mini chocolate chips and about 1/3c. cocoa powder and skipping on the plums and lemon altogether. (Swapped vanilla for the lemon.) Also: Dusted with cornmeal for the plum version which was a tip from another, similar recipe. Added slight crunch/crumb to the outside.


almost 2 years ago Hannah K

Sadness...my cake did not turn out as beautiful as the picture! The plums were subsumed by the cake, and the sides cooked cooked faster than the center remained pudding-like. I substituted pastry flour for all-purpose (it's all I had), I did sift, and my oven must've been running too hot. I want to give this beautiful cake another try. Any suggestions about the disappearing plums?


4 months ago Dian Suwignyo

A trick that might help is placing the plums five minutes after you placed the cake in the oven. Your cake should already slightly rise so it would hold the plum on the top :)


almost 2 years ago Rachel Berkman

I love how the plums come out a bit sticky and tart, delicious! Any tips for making the cake a bit more moist?


almost 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

So glad! The ricotta usually keeps mine very moist -- perhaps try slightly less time in the oven?


almost 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This is wonderful!!!


almost 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I'm so glad you like it! It truly is the easiest to throw together.


almost 2 years ago bukker

This was quick, easy and so delicious!!! Thank you.


almost 2 years ago Yelena

Being a car-less college student far away from a decent supermarket, I had to make do with some substitutions. I used 6 ounces of fat-free lemon yogurt instead of the ricotta and lemon zest. And I snuck out some plums from the dining hall. Cut down the sugar to 3/4 cup, because the yogurt had sugar in it. The cake turned out to be delicate and tasteful! I really love how the sweetness of the plums balances with the tanginess of the lemon. And a drizzle of honey on top was the perfect touch. Looking forward to trying this recipe with ricotta!


almost 2 years ago Mary Ann Phillips

made it today with blood olive oil and added some flax seeds. Moist and delicious, big hit.


almost 2 years ago Lauren Lind

I got all the ingredients to bake this cake and realized my springform pan is 10" instead of 9". Any advice on how to modify the recipe to work for a 10" springform pan?


almost 2 years ago pickures

this sounds soooo good!! reminds me of a plum cake my mom used to make and I never did get her recipe when she left us.


almost 2 years ago Caitlin

you mention not activating the gluten. would you say it was acceptable then to try a GF flour blend? Maybe adding xanthen gum?


almost 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Of course! Especially one that you can swap in without adjusting the amount, like Cup4Cup.