Prune Coffee Cake

April 19, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

A friend of the family makes a delicious prune cake, of which I've been promised the recipe for the last 20something years. My attempts to recreate it started with Susanne's Spice cake from the Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook. I keep making it, adding/deleting ingredients and in this version adding espresso. Topping it with powdered sugar is sweet enough for me, but a powdered sugar glaze would better suit someone with a real sweet tooth. Also, the espresso gives it a strong coffee flavor, but you could use coffee for a less intense effect. - nannydeb —nannydeb

Test Kitchen Notes

Nannydeb’s Prune Coffee Cake is a perfect breakfast cake (when one is of a mind to have cake for breakfast and really that is something you should do now and again). It is sweet but not too sweet, rich without being too dense, and has a perfect hint of coffee and spice. The prunes keep it nice and moist as well. It's an easy cake to make, comes together in 10 or 15 minutes, and is delicious still warm or completely cooled. Next time I make it I may dice up some additional prunes and add them in there as small chunks just because I really love prunes. A definite thumbs up for an EP, and Nannydeb needs to teach a cake workshop because she is the master! - aargersi —aargersi

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup prunes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup hot espresso or coffee
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter,room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 10-inch spring form pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, plump the prunes with the hot espresso or coffee for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, and maple syrup and mix well.
  5. Puree the prunes with the espresso or coffee in the food processor. Add to the cake batter and mix well.
  6. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan at least 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the cake to a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tyler Hatherley Smith
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  • Stacey Snacks
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  • we eat. happy.
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Recipe by: nannydeb

Former restaurant manager (and waitress, bartender, etc). I love food: eating, trying new recipes, shopping for it, talking/emailing about it, etc. My foodie friend and pen pal got me interested in recipe contests and also turned me on to food52 and now I'm obsessed!

30 Reviews

HenOfTheWoods August 24, 2023
This was disappointing for me. 4 tbsp butter and 1 egg with 2 cups flour makes for a "health cake." Sad to be the lone naysayer on this recipe but it was not for me.
Tyler H. April 5, 2021
Hi, I've made this cake 3 times now for my brother who has severe bowel issues. This is a delicious way to help him 'go' naturally 💩
It's similar to Jamaican ginger cake in texture and has that spicy flavour with the cloves.

However, all 3 times it's been in the oven for an hour each time rather than 35 mins as stated. Only thing I do differently is use oat/soya milk as he is lactose intolerant but everything else is exact so just FYI to anyone making this in a hurry! ")
Jennifer N. August 5, 2016
I made this cake EXACTLY as written and it was devoured by friends at a dinner party. Making again tonight but will cut it into four chunks and throw 3 in the freezer. Sooooo gooood!
Melanie April 7, 2016
I made this again, only gluten-free this time. For interested parties, here are my modifications: 1/2 c. coconut flour, 3/4 c. almond meal, 3/4 c. hazelnut meal (you could use all almond or all hazelnut I think). I doubled the butter, and added another egg to stabilize the gluten-free batter, decreased sugar to 1/2 c., and prunes to 1/4 c., trying to keep moisture ratios the same. Everything else, as written. Turned out beautifully, great taste and crumb.
Sandra R. June 3, 2017
That sounds amazing. I was thinking over how to make it gluten free but using Cup4Cup. Your version is definitely a higher protein which would be good for breakfast. Thanks for the advise
Anastasia August 14, 2015
Amazing! Very simple and absolutely tasty! Added a bit more coffee and prunes. I will obviously do it many times.
Melanie January 7, 2015
This is delicious! Added toasted walnuts. Baked in loaf pan. Yummy.
Asaracoglu June 6, 2013
Do you think this would work with dates instead of prunes?
Kateq March 21, 2013
I just made this -- in two loaf pans
I added more prunes, but otherwise followed the recipe.
Stacey S. December 27, 2012
I just made this delicious cake.
I kept the prunes in tact and used the hot espresso soaking liquid directly in the cake batter. I also glazed it with confectioner's sugar and orange juice.
This cake was a winner! Loved it!
we E. July 8, 2012
I have made this multiple times now, & it really is delicious. The flavors are wonderful with a nice strong cup of coffee in the morning. Easy & special for a crowd too.
Truly S. April 15, 2012
negotiated recipe with
2 c wheat flour, halved the sugar, add 1 Tbs molasses, halved the butter, added 1 Tbs coconut oil. doubled prunes
used 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp clove. halved the milk, added difference w coconut milk.
baked in cast iron skillet.
result moist, holds together, spicy. very good. ty
we E. April 4, 2012
I have made this cake multiple times. It is a delicious recipe...the warm, lovely spices are really brilliant. It's perfect with a big cup of French roast coffee.
LeBec F. April 4, 2012
I came to loook at this recipe because of the prunes. I would be intrigued if you did a version with armagnac soaked prunes, with walnuts added, and this mixture (w/ cardamom and orange zest) alternately layered with the batter! oh, and some whole wheat flour too! I'll report back when I do riff on it. Thx much for the inspiration!
nannydeb April 5, 2012
I would love a wheat flour version! That way I would feel better about eating it for breakfast...
glutwin March 10, 2015
Bonjour Bec Fin!… Did you ever do your riff with the armagnac "whacked" prunes, walnuts, cardamom & orange?? Votre version me tente énormément! Considering toasted noisettes/hazelnuts/filberts (for the Oregonian reading population!) as well…Bec Fin…je pense que oui!!
skooj September 30, 2011
Just made this last night. Perfect in every respect. I did add some additional chopped prunes to the batter because I am prune-crazed. Thanks so much for a stellar recipe.
nannydeb September 30, 2011
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I had no idea there were so many prune lovers out there!
fearlessem September 29, 2011
aargersi - I guess this must be a matter of taste. My spices were fresh, I used great Grade B maple syrup and strong espresso... Its not that the cake isn't moist -- it is. It just tastes like a sort of muted spice cake to me (and my husband)... I guess I was looking for more coffee and maple flavor, as I don't love spice cake that much to begin with. Now that I read the head notes again, I see the comment that it was based on a spice cake recipe -- I think perhaps renaming it Prune Spice Cake would be more clear, as that really is the flavor profile...
nannydeb September 29, 2011
Hi fearlessem, thanks for trying my cake! I try tons of recipes on food52 and at times I don't get what all of the fuss is about. Sometimes I ooh and ahhh along with everybody else!
fearlessem September 28, 2011
Is it really two *Tablespoons of baking powder* That seems like a huge amount, but since I'm about to bake it, guess I'll give it a go? Fingers crossed...
fearlessem September 28, 2011
Well, I used the two tablespoons and it seemed to be the right amount. But I will say that I wanted to love this cake and somehow just didn't... The combination of flavors wound up feeling like less than the sum of their parts to me, rather than more... Maybe it'll grow on me in the morning with a cup of tea...
aargersi September 29, 2011
That's odd because I followed the recipe (I thought 2 tbs was a lot but it worker perfectly) and mine was rich and moist and spicy, did you use real maple syrup and fresh spices and butter? maybe one of the ingredients was off?
Truly S. April 15, 2012
i thought two tablespoons of baking powder was alot also.
its in the oven so... we will see. that is the most bp ever. ????
aargersi September 15, 2011
I just made this again and this time I folded a diced pear into the batter - the batter is SO GOOD I could eat it raw, but I put (most of) it in the oven ...
nannydeb September 15, 2011
That sounds good! I wish I had some for dessert right now!
VanessaS April 21, 2011
I love prunes in baked goods - looks delicious!
Sagegreen April 20, 2011
This looks and sounds great! Prunes are so under-appreciated. Love the home you are giving them here! I would totally make this. What a great breakfast.
nannydeb April 21, 2011
Thanks Sagegreen! Yes, usually if you mention prunes people shy away and won't even try it, but they're so sweet and delicious!
drbabs April 19, 2011