I Baked a Vintage Prune Cake Recipe—Here’s What I Thought

I found this retro prune cake recipe and just had to give it a try. How'd it taste? You may be surprised!

Why a prune cake? Well, I love to collect vintage cookbooks and recipes from the ’50s and ’60s. The themes, retro graphics and grainy photos of these old collections are so fun and kitschy.

Especially interesting in these recipes are the ingredients that are less commonly used today. For that reason, this cake caught my eye: Mrs. Ed Cothran’s Perfect Prune Cake recipe, one of many vintage recipes gathered on Twisted-Candy.com.

I had never tried prunes in any form before this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from a prune-filled cake!

Mrs. Ed Cothran’s Perfect Prune Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (granulated) sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cooked cut-up unsweetened prunes. Try these.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon (baking) soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup broken pecans

Initial Thoughts

Seeing all of the spices listed for this cake and after tasting one of the dried prunes, I guessed that this cake would be like a flavorful spice cake or a rich, old-fashioned ribbon cake with raisins. Try all of our crazy-good spice cake recipes. I have my own recipe for a fig cake and the steps for this cake seemed very similar.

Nancy Mock

Step 1: Cooking the Prunes

The recipe calls for “cooked cut-up unsweetened prunes” and a note at the end recommends cooking the prunes 24 hours ahead of time. I decided to take a shortcut by cooking them just before putting the batter together. I used kitchen shears to snip the sticky, dried prunes into small pieces, brought them to a boil in a saucepan with one cup of water and then simmered them for about 10 minutes. They cooked down into a thick sauce which, when cooled, seemed like a perfect jammy consistency to add to this cake.

Step 2: Mixing the Batter

The batter came together quickly by blending the wet ingredients together, whisking the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then combining the two.

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Step 3: The Bake

I poured the batter into a buttered and floured Bundt pan (here are 26 of our most beautiful Bundt cake recipes) and put it in a 325° oven for 60 minutes. I could tell that this was a dense cake with a lot of moisture that needed the full hour, but I didn’t mind as it filled my house with an irresistible aroma as it baked.

Pro tip: You can test the cake’s doneness by inserting a toothpick or thin knife into the center of the bake. If it comes out clean, it’s ready to come out of the oven.

Step 4: Final Touches

The cake released easily from my pan onto a cooling rack. I decided to dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar as I knew it would look beautiful against the deep brown of the cake. This, however, meant waiting for the cake to cool fully before it could be dusted and tasted—torture! But finally, the cake was ready to be sampled. (The timer trick is one of these 12 secret baking tips!)

Nancy Mock

The Verdict

This cake is sooo moist and very delicious. The prunes give a deep, sweet flavor to the cake and the pecans are nicely scattered through the slices. (Though I may omit them the next time I make this cake… and there will be a next time!) Some orange zest would be a nice flavor variation to try in this cake too, paired with the cinnamon and clove.

This prune cake would be wonderful for breakfast or with a hot cup of tea in the afternoon. If you like desserts like spice cakes and hermit cookies that feature the sweet and deep flavors of dried fruit, this vintage prune cake recipe is right up your alley.

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Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.