BLACK FOREST PLUM CAKE (x 2) + Homegrown Kitchen Wins Best Food Website!

5th September 2019


I woke up to some exciting news while on holiday in Italy last week. My Homegrown Kitchen website won Best NZ Food Website in the Foodies NZ Food Media Awards, plus my Homegrown Kitchen cookbook was Highly Commended in the Best NZ Cookbook section. After 16 years of writing and sharing recipes online and in print it is truly wonderful to receive this recognition. Thanks for following along and cheering me on the way.

After an incredible 2 weeks in Italy with my sister (check out some of the highlights from the trip on my Instagram stories) it is back home to spring. I have some fresh and vibrant recipes to share in the coming months, but first here is a cake I created for my sisters birthday that also makes an excellent celebration cake as now I have a reason to celebrate!


The winter months seem to be the time of birthdays in our family. My sister and my birthday fall within 10 days of each other, with almost a decade in between. Being the older sibling the role of making my sister’s birthday cake was often my (enjoyable) task through my teen years.

Whether spurred by my own interest or by my little sister’s request, black forest cake became an annual affair.

This year, I decided to create a special cake using fruit preserves grown in my summer garden. I don’t have a cherry tree (yet) but I do have several plums, including a dark-fleshed black doris. I think my sister’s birthday is a good enough reason to crack open a jar.

If you don’t have preserves on hand, there are tinned New Zealand-grown black doris plums available at most supermarkets, or use bottled cherries if you prefer.

Black Forest Plum Cake

I share two versions of this cake, as I couldn't decide on which route to take when developing the recipe. First, is a more traditional one with a decadent chocolate icing followed by an egg- and dairy-free version using coconut cream for the icing and ground flaxseeds as a clever egg substitute. I can barely taste the difference in the cake bases, although the coconut icing is distinctly coconut-y.
Servings 12
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • 850 g can black doris plums or homemade plum preserves
  • 1 cup ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 cups white flour or use gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 ml olive oil, melted butter or neutral-tasting oil
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsps apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate icing:

  • 400 g mascarpone
  • 2-3 tbsps maple syrup
  • 3 tbsps cocoa powder


  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line two 22cm round cake tins.
  • Open the jar or can of plums and tip the fruit into a sieve sitting over a bowl to drain and collect the syrup. Reserve the plum halves for assembling the cake.
  • Place the dry ingredients into a bowl and use a whisk to combine and aerate. In a food processor combine the wet ingredients, including ½ cup drained plum syrup - set aside the plum halves for layering between the cakes once they are cooked. Blend until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and pulse 6 times, stop and scrap down the sides, then pulse again until combined.
  • Distribute the batter evenly between the two tins and smooth the surface. Bake for 30-35 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the tins and cool completely on a rack.
  • To make the icing, combine the mascarpone, maple syrup and cocoa in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add extra syrup if needed.
  • To assemble the cake, place one cake on a serving plate. Spread with half of the icing and top with a layer of plum halves pressing them into the icing. Place the second cake on top and spread with the remaining icing, smoothing the surface with a knife. Decorate with edible flowers and serve.

Black Forest Plum Cake - Version Two: Egg- & Dairy-Free


  • 850 g can black doris plums or homemade plum preserves
  • 1 cup ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 cups white flour - can use gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 ml olive oil or neutral-tasting oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • cup coconut milk drained from coconut cream*
  • 2 tsps  apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp  vanilla extract

Chocolate coconut Icing

  • 400 g creamed coconut* about 2 x 400ml cans
  • 2-3 tbsps  maple syrup
  • 3 tbsps  cocoa powder


  • Make the cake following the method above.


*Creamed coconut is the thick creamy part of a can of coconut cream. Chill for several hours then scoop off the creamed coconut at the top of the can. Use the remaining liquid coconut milk in smoothies and curries, and in the cake recipe above.

Join the Conversation

  1. Hi. Are there any plums(are they counted as wet ingredients?)in the cake mixture, or do ALL the plums just sit between the cakes on the icing.

    1. Hi Jude, only the plum syrup is used in the actual cake batter and the plum halves are used for layering between the cakes. The syrup adds a lovely flavour to the bases without making them too heavy for rising.
      Thanks for checking.

      1. Glad you answered this question here Nicola, as we weren’t quite sure too. And didn’t find out until we’d put the plums in the cake batter. Will have to see how it cooks…
        It may be a good idea to edit the recipe for clarity. Perhaps in step 2 add, “Reserve the plums for serving/assembling the cake.”

        1. Thanks, Angela for the feedback. In step 3 the recipe reads – “In a food processor combine the wet ingredients, including ½ cup drained plum syrup (set aside the plum halves for layering between the cakes once they are cooked)”. I thought this instruction would make it clear that the plum halves are for assembling the cake not for adding to the batter. Maybe because it is in brackets it isn’t being taken in – I will remove the brackets and add your suggested addition to step 2 so to hopefully cover all bases 🙂
          Happy cooking, Nicola

  2. Hi Nicola,
    I am thinking about making this cake (with cherries) for my Dad’s birthday this weekend 🙂 Just wondering if only neutral oil works in this recipe or could I also use 200ml melted butter?

    1. Hi Julia, absolutely you can replace the oil with 200g melted butter. Enjoy!

  3. Hi Nicola,
    I always use melted butter in recipes instead of oil. What would the diffrence be in using an oil and which neutral tasting oil do you use?
    I tend to only use organic extra vrigin olive oil, butter and ghee in my cooking and baking.

    This cake looks delicous and is inspiring me to bake for my daughter’s upcoming 18th birthday.

    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Pamela, I used olive oil in this recipe but I know some people find it too strong in flavour so give neutral oil such as rice bran oil as an option in the recipe. You could also use the same quantity of melted butter.
      I hope you enjoy it, I know it has been made for quite a few special occasions 🙂

  4. Hi Nicola,

    If I’m trying to make it nut free, would it be ok to use coconut or more flour? Thanks so much it looks delicious!

    Ngā mihi

    1. Hi Kate, I would use extra flour as coconut flour will absorb a lot of extra moisture.

  5. Hi Nicola
    I love your recipes and am keen to try this one but the only cake tin I have 2 of are my 20 cm cake tins (Kaiser springform ones). Do you think the batter would fit in 2 x 20 cm springform tins and if so would I need to reduce temp and lengthen baking time or is the size difference not very significant?
    Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Chloe, thanks for your query. I think it would be fine in a slightly smaller tin. They may need to cook an extra 5 minutes but use the skewer to check and assess if it needs a little longer.
      Happy baking 🙂

  6. Kia ora Nicola,

    I am planning to make this cake for my daughter’s first birthday (she has a dairy allergy) and I’ve just discovered there is a canned black Doris plum shortage! Do you think canned raspberries would work as a substitute or best to stick to canned cherries instead?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Elizabeth, yes, I am aware that canned Doris Plums availability has been affected due to cyclone in Hawkes Bay. Cherries would definitely be more true to the recipe but you could use raspberries if preferred. Just keep in mind they will be softer than plums so could effect the texture of the cake.
      Enjoy 🙂 Nicola

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