This week was the first one that really, truly felt like fall was rolling into the neighborhood. I was thrilled. I put socks and sweatshirts on my kids for the first time in months, poured myself a second cup of coffee, and decided to spend the afternoon baking.

I knew I wanted to make Ina Garten’s Italian Plum Tart, but then I got distracted by a Stone Fruit Tea Cake. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. In an effort to leave no stone fruit unturned, I simply decided to make both. More butter and sugar? Sign me up. That, and I still had one 30-pound box of Italian Prunes/Plums to put to good use.

After they cooled, I slid both desserts in front of my rigorous testing committee. The verdict? Tie. Both were a delicious combination of flavors and textures. Both were simple, using seasonal fruit and pantry staples. Both will be making future appearances in my kitchen. Neither will last long.

First up, Italian Plum Tart.

Tarts get a bad rap. They come across as fussy and fragile, requiring special techniques and pans. Ina Garten’s version is the opposite. It uses basic ingredients, which I simplified even further, and is baked in a simple springform pan. The only other changes I made were to bump up the amount of fruit and decrease the amount of sugar.

Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it makes one tasty early fall dessert. Although I would easily bake this for a brunch; change the name to coffee cake and anything goes.

Italian Plum Tart

Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe


1 pound Italian prune plums, quartered and pitted
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/3 cups sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit), divided
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1 T. cold water

  1. Place the plums, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the water and continue to beat for about 30 seconds, until the mixture forms large, moist crumbs. Set aside 3/4 cup of the crumb mixture and pour the rest into the springform pan.
  3. With floured hands, lightly pat the dough evenly in the bottom of the pan and 1 inch up the sides.
  4. Arrange the plums in a single layer on the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly on top. Bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and serve warm or at room temperature.

This delicious Stone Fruit Tea Cake comes from 

by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. If you enjoy baking with seasonal fruits (or want to start), you need to add this cookbook to your shelf. It is excellent.

I combined coarsely chopped frozen plums and peaches for this dessert. The thin layer of fruit is surrounded by slightly sweet cake, soft on the bottom and crunchy on the top. Oh yeah.

Stone Fruit Tea Cake

Barely adapted from by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson


2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. fine sea salt
1 c. sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 T. vanilla extract
3 c. coarsely chopped mixed stone fruit, fresh or frozen

  1. Bake for 30-40 minutes (will take slightly longer if using frozen fruit), or until lightly golden and firm.  Cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Note: This cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.  You can also wrap and freeze the unbaked dough for up to 3 months.  You can also wrap and freeze a whole, unbaked cake with fruit for 1 month.


A springform pan is a baker’s staple. This set of Norpro Nonstick Springform set of three

 includes a 9 inch, 10 inch and 10.5 inch size. Perfect for cheesecakes, tarts and more.

Looking for more delicious dessert ideas?

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