Plum-Cardamom Coffee Cake

The rhubarb-rose coffee cake gets an autumn makeover.

Photograph of a slice of coffeecake with a plum jam filling and a streusel topping. The dish is set on a mustard-colored linen cloth with a few Italian plums placed around the dish. There are pink hydrangeas in the background.

My partner and I harvested 65 pounds of Italian plums, also known as prune plums, from our friends D & I last month. (Their trees produced several hundred pounds this year!)

Seattle is now the place where I’ve lived the longest as an adult, and one of a few places where I’ve had time to learn rhythm of the seasons. That also means learning the cycle of the harvests, what foods can be stored or put up or frozen, and which recipes I look forward to making each season, even if I only make them once or twice. Ratatouille in late August, when the tomato, zucchini, and eggplant crops line up; nettle pesto in the spring and basil pesto in the summer.

Seattle is home to a large number of Italian plum trees.The plum harvest comes in September and October, making this recipe a nice change from all the pumpkin spice. (Which I also like, by the way.)

While the Burros plum torte is my usual go-to recipe for plum season, I also don’t usually have 65 pounds of plums. I made the oven jam and coffee cake recipes below several times, and my partner and I both canned plum jams (I did the Plum Cardamom Jam from Food in Jars, and they made a plain plum jam). We gave away some plums fresh or frozen, and I have one last bag in the freezer for my torte, or another coffee cake.

The jam recipe was inspired by queeringdomesticity’s post on Instagram (give them a follow!). As much as I dislike social media, especially corporations’ lack of accountability for the harassment of marginalized users, I love the queer and trans community of home cooks, food writers, and food professionals I’ve gotten to know online. And speaking of their great username and the queer food community, I have a piece in the “Our Club” issue of Compound Butter (Issue 15) about the idea of queer domesticity and upending the gender binary coming out soon.

Photograph of a glass dish full of plum-cardamom jam. The dish is set on a mustard-colored linen cloth with a few Italian plums placed around the dish. In the background is a slice of coffee cake with plum jam filling and topped with streusel.

Plum-Cardamom Oven Jam

To get the full experience in honor of D, listen to The Magnus Archives while cooking.

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175° C).

In a large bowl, combine 

  • 2.5 lbs Italian plums, with the skin on, pitted and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (I used Diaspora Co.’s Baraka Cardamom, which is green cardamom)
  • 1.5 cups (300 g, 7 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 2 2-inch strips orange peel (I often use most of a mikan peel torn into strips)
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt

Transfer the mixture to a roasting pan (about 13×9 inches) or a rimmed baking sheet and spread out evenly.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, stirring gently every 20 minutes or so. The juices should thicken slightly and bubble at the edges but may still be soupy in the middle. That’s okay. The jam will firm as it cools.

Remove the pan or baking sheet from the oven and add 

  • 1-1.5 tsp lemon juice (to taste) 

Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer jam to an airtight container. Refrigerate after completely cool. Serve within 1 to 2 weeks.

If you make the rhubarb-rose coffee cake recipe on my website, you can use 1.5 cups of this jam in place of the rhubarb jam (see recipe below). The plums will be juicier than the rhubarb, so you may want to use less jam (1.5 cups instead of 2) than the original recipe. If the streusel looks wet but the cake (bottom layer) is done, do not keep cooking the cake–I’ve overbaked it trying to “dry out” the topping. I also recommend making the cake with pecans or hazelnuts for a toasty autumnal feel, so I included that in the recipe below.

Here’s the cake recipe as well if you don’t want to click over to the original:

Photograph of a slice of coffeecake with streusel and plum jam filling. The slice has been cut out of the cake and is being lifted out with the pie cutter.

Plum-Cardamom Coffee Cake

Ingredients should be about room temperature.

  • Extra butter for greasing
  • 1 TBSP panko or dried bread crumbs

Grease the pan with butter and sprinkle the panko evenly on the bottom. Turn lightly to coat and tap out any extra crumbs.

For the cake:

In a large bowl, whisk together until blended:

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Cut into  ~1 TBSP slices:

  • 10 TBSP (1 ¼ sticks, 140 g, 5 oz) unsalted butter

Add flour mixture and butter to food processor (or cut with a pastry cutter) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Remove ½ cup of the crumbs and set aside. (You can add the crumbs back into the food processor for later.) Put the rest of the mixture back into the large bowl.

Add to the large bowl and whisk thoroughly:

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda


  • ¾ cup (180 mL) buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Using the hand mixer, beat for  ~1 minute on medium-high speed until the batter is smooth and fluffy. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Gently spread

  • 1.5 cups (360 mL) of plum-cardamom jam (see above)

on top of the batter.

For the streusel, add to the food processor*:

  • ½ cup (or 120 mL by volume) of reserved “crumbs”
  • ¾ cup (95 g) toasted hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts
  • ½ cup (100 g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Run the food processor until blended, then sprinkle the streusel over the jam on the cake.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 55-65 minutes (10-inch pan) or 60-70 minutes (9-inch pan), or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool ~10 minutes, then slide a small knife or small silicone spatula around the edge. 

Remove the pan sides. Let cool on the wire rack for ~2 hours before serving.


*If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the nuts and mix streusel ingredients with a fork until blended.


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