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Old Fashioned
Prune Cake

This classic recipe from our friends at California Prunes is a testament to the baking ingenuity of our grandmothers and the surprisingly delightful role prunes can play in desserts. Crafted with a nod to the resourcefulness of past generations—particularly during the 1940s when sugar rationing demanded creativity in the kitchen—this recipe honors both tradition and taste.

Featuring a tender, spice-kissed cake enriched with the natural sweetness of prunes, this cake is a revelation for anyone who's yet to discover the depth of flavor these dried fruits can bring to baked goods. Topped with a luscious, buttery glaze, each slice is moist, rich, and delicious.

If you’re in a cake-kind-of-mood, also check out Meg van der Kruik’s Chocolate Covered Fudge Cake (which happens to be naturally gluten-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free). We also love Kate Ramos’ nut-laden Panforte, which works well for dessert or on a cheese board. Or try this delicious recipe for Pumpkin Bread from a California prune-growing family.

Photo courtesy of California Prunes

In partnership with California Prunes


Yield: 12 servings

1 heaping cup California Prunes minced (28 to 30 prunes)
2 cups boiling water
1 cup neutral baking oil or olive oil
1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour or 2 cups gluten-free flour + 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

¼ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of coarse kosher salt


Place the minced prunes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes, then drain thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and spray a 13×9 metal or glass baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Whisk to combine.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour (or gluten-free flour + xanthan gum), baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions. Stir to combine. Fold in the drained prunes and walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes until cooked through and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Combine all the ingredients into a medium-sized saucepan. It will seem like the pot is too big, but the sugar mixture needs room to swell up in the pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or just before the softball stage.

While the cake is hot from the oven and still in the pan, pour the icing over it. Use a fork to gently poke holes all around the top of the cake so that it can absorb the icing.

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