Plum buttercream further plumbs depths of fruit-based deliciousness

Chocolate cake with plum buttercreamMichelle’s discovery that most any fresh fruit juice can be used to flavor buttercream has created a bit of an unusual cake boom here in Gourmandistan. While handing over a hoarded, frozen slice of our white cake with wild blackberry buttercream to her mother, Michelle casually created another cake, this time with chocolate and red plum buttercream.

PlumsThe juice came from a batch of plums we luckily spotted on a recent market trip. We snatched them up to make jam (and several cold and slurpy snacks for Steve).

Plum jamHalved, heated and mashed on the stovetop, the reddish-purple beauties released their sweet-tart goodness, which Michelle added to her standard buttercream recipe. Though Michelle hasn’t found a chocolate cake recipe good enough to share, the chocolate made a nice base for the delightfully tart buttercream. And a layer of chocolate ganache and plum jam made for extra decadence.

Chocolate cake with plum buttercreamMichelle is now weighing whether we should freeze some fresh fruit or juice for the winter months instead of making more jam. After all, good buttercream knows no season.


  • Servings: enough to ice one 2- or 3-layer 8-inch cake
  • Print

  • 4 or 5 red plums, halved (not necessary to pit)
  • A few TB of milk, if needed
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) very soft unsalted butter
  • 6-7 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Place plums in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat, mashing with a potato masher or a wooden spoon to extract as many juices as possible. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve, pushing with a spoon to remove all juice. You should have about 1/3 cup of juice. (If there’s more, all the better—just save for another use.) Chill in refrigerator.

Add enough milk to the chilled plum juice to make 1/2 cup of liquid.

Place butter, 4 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar and liquid in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until smooth. Add additional sugar, one cup at a time, until thick, smooth and spreadable. (It usually takes about 6 cups.)


    • Thanks, Angelica! One day, I just thought, well, you put coffee-flavored milk in to make coffee buttercream, so why not fruit juice? And it worked great. The possibilities are endless. I’m a little mad at myself for not trying peach this summer…

    • I’m sure others have thought of it before… (I originally was thinking of adding jam, but was afraid it would be too sticky.) It has worked out well. One day, I want to try peach.

  1. The thing I love about you guys is that the stuff you do is so completely different than anything I do. I would never in a million years think to do something like this. It’s just not the way my brain functions (and you guys probably aren’t sitting around thinking about deep frying sea urchin or or cold smoking sweet shrimp). I guess Steve and I do have our cured-meat crossover. 🙂

    • Thanks, Mimi! Years (well, decades, really) ago, I remember making a cake for Steve’s birthday that had an apricot buttercream. I’m pretty sure you rehydrated dried apricots and then juiced them. I think it was a Gourmet or Bon Appétit recipe, but I’ve never found it again. That was in the back of my mind when I started trying fruit icings this way. And it worked!

  2. I’ve been cooking with plums recently…probably making the same “slurpy” snacks that Steve likes. Very good cake and the plate reminds me of something I can’t quite place..I think it may be the crockery in a shop that used to be in the Kings Rd, Chelsea ( down at the Parson’s Green end) that was called the Merchant Chandler…it was owned by a fantastic photographer (sadly now dead) called Terence Donovan and it must have been there in the early 70’s…but I’m sure they had those plates:)

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