Serves a Crowd

Crème Fraîche Plum Cake with Plum Caramel

July 27, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes one 9-inch cake
Author Notes

The additions of crème fraîche, semolina flour, and thick fruit slices are not what make this cake—which comes from The A.O.C. Cookbook by Suzanne Goin—special. No, its real signature is the "plum caramel," which is made by puréeing plums (this will feel like a crime, so close your eyes) with lemon juice and then whisking this mixture into caramelized sugar.

You'll get a purplish, slightly sour syrup to layer in the raw cake and serve atop the finished slices. And you'll have enough leftover to drizzle over yogurt, ice cream, or cream biscuits. Or freeze the leftovers and resurrect that plum flavor once November hits.

Goin recommends using Santa Rosa plums, but I've made this cake with a mix of black and sugar plums. If you aren't as plum crazy as I am, Goin assures that this dessert can be made with any super-ripe summer fruit: blackberries, nectarines, or figs. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the plum caramel:
  • 3/4 pound ripe plums
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • For the cake:
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup semolina flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, at room temperature, plus a little for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup crème fraîche, divided
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 pound ripe plums
  1. To make the caramel: Pit the plums and cut them into small wedges. Place them in a blender with the lemon juice and purée until smooth and liquidy. If you are using ripe, juicy plums, you won't need to add any more liquid to make the purée a pourable consistency.
  2. Use a paring knife to split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds and pulp into a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla bean pod, the sugar, and 1/2 cup water.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring. Cook for about 10 minutes, swirling occasionally, until the mixture is a deep amber color. Slowly add the plum purée, whisking constantly. Continue cooking until any sugar that has seized is dissolved. Turn off the heat and let cool. Makes 1 cup plum caramel.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter a 9-inch round springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Paddle just to combine.
  6. Add the butter and 1/2 cup crème fraîche and paddle until the mixture starts to come together but is still crumbly.
  7. Add the remaining 1/2 cup crème fraîche and the egg yolks, then increase the speed to medium-high and paddle until the color lightens to a pale yellow.
  8. Remove the pits from the plums and cut them into 3/4-inch wedges.
  9. Spread half the batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle 1/3 cup plum caramel over the batter, then arrange half the plum wedges on top.
  10. Dot the remaining half of the batter on top of the arranged plums and caramel, then gently spread it to cover the plums. Arrange the rest of the plum wedges on top, then sprinkle with the final 1 tablespoon sugar.
  11. Put the cake in the oven with a sheet tray on the rack underneath to capture any caramel drips. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350° F and bake for 30 more minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a rack for at least 30 minutes before unmolding.
  12. Serve the cake drizzled with additional plum caramel.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jen Guthrie
    Jen Guthrie
  • Susan Westall
    Susan Westall
  • Heather | Delicious Not Gorgeous
    Heather | Delicious Not Gorgeous
  • Melanie
  • Henry Jampel
    Henry Jampel

18 Reviews

Daisy H. September 15, 2021
This cake is absolutely perfect. A new all time fave. I substituted greek yogurt + ricotta for creme fraiche because that's what I had, and the batter seemed quite dry, but it turned out beautifully.
Jen G. September 1, 2018
Should you peel.the plums for caramel sauce?
Sarah J. September 1, 2018
No need!
Susan W. July 26, 2018
I made this recipe yesterday....delish. I did a half recipe of the cake in a 7 inch springform pan, and it worked perfectly - just had to babysit the baking time to adjust for cake size. I also subbed sour cream for creme fraiche as that's what I had on hand. Excellent cake - very buttery. I really enjoyed the fruit caramel and will be trying this with other fruits.
Sarah J. July 26, 2018
So glad you liked it! I did a little fruit caramel experimenting myself, it it helps you at all!
Christine July 5, 2016
I made this cake last year as listed and it was wonderful. I also made it yesterday using nectarines instead of plums and sour cream instead of creme fraiche (because I had it on hand). I received many compliments both times. My oven may run cool, as I did end up baking it for about 15-20 mins longer than listed. As others have said, the sweetness is just right. I found that the caramel flavor came through a touch more when I used nectarines, but it may be that I didn't cook my caramel long enough last year. I look forward to using this recipe again and experimenting with other fruits in it.
Kris June 20, 2016
This cake is good and all, but it's not to amazing as to be worth using more than a half pound of butter, six eggs, and expensive creme fraiche. I thought with using all that stuff it has to be fantastic...but I've had similar cakes that are just as good, if not better, that use 2 eggs and less than a half pound of butter. Also, I agree with the commenter who said the temperature for this cake is too hot for the mass of the cake - I took the advice and turned down the oven temp by 25 degrees and am really glad I did! I even think this cake is too big to be cooked properly in a regular cake pan - to get it cooked in the middle you've got to dry out the rest of the cake, so I would maybe suggest making it in a bundt if you have one. Lastly, I cooked my caramel very dark and it was still difficult for the real caramel taste to come through after the plums had been added - the "caramel" mostly tasted like a plum coulis. All in's too bad but it's not a great recipe....might need a bit more testing!
lynda May 3, 2016
How would the cake batter work as an upside down cake?
Heather |. November 21, 2015
i totally messed up: i added the fruit way before the sugar really became caramel, and i overmixed the batter. and still it was amazing! incredibly tender with plenty of fruit and the perfect level of sweet (read: not too sweet).
Heather |. November 21, 2015
i'd also like to note that both whole milk greek yogurt instead of creme fraiche and almond meal in lieu of semolina worked really well (:
JRB731 September 13, 2015
What if you don't have semolina flour?
Sarah J. September 13, 2015
You can replace it with all-purpose flour or fine cornmeal.
ori August 21, 2015
Made it today, its wonderful. Only one comment, i think the ratio between the heat and pan size is a too high, i followed the instructions and after 30 minutes, it was fully bake on the out side and uncooked on the inside.
Next time (and there will be a next time), i would use a wider pan or lower heat (375 is too high for mass)
thanks for a great recipe
JEAN G. August 18, 2015
Thank you for answering me so promptly! Sorry, yesterday I read and re-read, and could not find the other plums. Silly me. But after reading your answer, I saw the other plums at the bottom of the recipe! Thank you! I love cakes also! Good luck on your endevours!

Jean Gordon.

cakes too!
JEAN G. August 17, 2015
You asked for 3/4 pound plums which you cut up to make the syrup. But then you asked to cut plums in wedges, so where are the other plums in the recipe? I guess something is missing! More plums! I am puzzled!
Jean Gordon
Sarah J. August 17, 2015
Plums are listed twice in the ingredient list—one time for the caramel, and another time for the cake. There should be 1 1/2 pounds of plums total (evenly split between caramel and cake). Hope that helps to clarify things!
Melanie August 9, 2015
This is a big and delicious cake! My economical version of creme fraiche is a combination of 2% or whole Greek yogurt with heavy cream mixed in to reach the consistency of sour cream. Also, I did not have 6 egg yolks, so used 4 whole eggs. I imagine the cake would be richer and denser with w/only yolks, but the taste is still lovely! The cake needed more than an hour in the oven, perhaps because of the whole eggs - approx. 30 additional minutes. Could also be due to the eggs, my pan, or the oven. Served the cake w/the plum caramel and a bit of softly whipped cream. So yummy this morning with coffee for breakfast! Thank you for sharing!
Henry J. July 31, 2015
They didn't serve this at Camp Robin Hood.