Cardamom-Plum Cake

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The inspiration for this plum cake came from a visit to Galiano island a couple of weekends ago for a wedding.

I’ve lived here for 10 years now and British Columbia never ceases to amaze me with its jewel-toned beauty, at once wild and serene. If you’ve never been here, you must come visit. Galiano is the gulf island closest to Vancouver.

There were seals frolicking against a backdrop of misty islands rising from the turquoise sea a hundred metres from our front door, and lovely pear and plum trees dripping with fruit right outside our window.

There was even a pod of orcas visiting, although we didn’t have time to get out on the water. It’s a magical place.

Theo was snacking on sun-warmed, ripe fruit he plucked straight from the branches.  He relished the juicy plums with such enthusiasm (and adorable mess!) that when we got home, I bought a ton more at the farmers market.  And made cake!

I love the heady, floral aroma of cardamom – I use green pods, remove the seeds and smash/chop them with a chef’s knife to get the freshest flavour (there’s no comparison to the dusty pre-ground stuff you can buy).

But if you’re not a big cardamom fan, just leave it out – the cake will still be delicious.

I used Italian prune plums, and simply quartered them.  I think they look beautiful scattered throughout and on top of the cake, and I appreciate the tart, juicy bite to counter rich sweetness of the cake.

Don’t you find rustic desserts the most lovely? I just dusted it with confectioners sugar and served it like that.  But a scoop of vanilla ice cream never made a cake taste worse.

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Cardamom-Plum Cake

A fluffy, tender, cardamom-scented cake studded and topped with juicy, ripe plums.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8


  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 10 cardamom pods seeds removed and finely crushed with a knife or mortar and pestle
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz ripe plums cut in 1/2" slices (yields 2 cups sliced)
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  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 9x2" round cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, crushed cardamom, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, sour cream, milk, egg and vanilla extract.  Scrape this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until barely combined, with some floury patches remaining.  Fold in 3/4 of the plums (by this time the floury patches will be incorporated - it's just important not to over-mix).
  • Transfer the batter to prepared cake pan, and scatter remaining plums on top.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, until top feels springy when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife around the outside and invert onto a plate or clean oven mitt. Carefully then flip it right-side-up directly onto the cooling rack to finish cooling completely before transferring to a cake stand or serving plate.
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