Baking: Prune Cake

The first time I had Prune Cake was in the early 1990s. I had never heard of it, but my late Mother-in-law, Sondra, made it for some holiday or birthday and I fell in love. Prune Cake is a favorite in Mark’s family and I have so many fond memories of birthdays and holidays with this cake served. My senior year of high school, I took a Home Ec class and had to enter a food item in the local 4H competition. I made Sondra’s Prune Cake because I knew nobody else would make one. They didn’t and I did well.

I have so many memories of hanging out with Sondra while she made this cake for various members of the family. I spent many late nights hanging out with her in her kitchen talking and listening to stories. The other thing I love about this cake is that the recipe was given to Sondra by her mother-in-law, so I know when N eats it, he’s having cake that at least three generations of his family has had before him.

Anyway, Nicholas’ Grandpa’s birthday was this week, and since Sondra died in 2009, he’s only had the cake a couple of times. So, we baked him one. Larry was excited when I told him we were going to bake it for him, and I got the biggest praise ever when he told me it tasted just like Sondra’s. I also liked the chance to introduce Nicholas to a cake that his Daddy Mark requested for his birthday every year.

Prune Cake is a mix between a dense bread (like banana bread) and a spice cake. It’s super moist from the prunes and is full of yummy spices and pecans. We frost it with a simple buttercream, but I think it would be great with some butter melted on top and eaten with coffee.

Because I have so many happy memories of this cake, I thought I’d share it with you.

Sondra’s Prune Cake


  • 1 cup cooked prunes
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Cook the prunes (cover one cup of prunes with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and let the prunes stew for 10 minutes or so. You’re goal is to plump them up. Discard the water and let them cool). Mix oil, sugar, eggs and cooled, chopped prunes. Add dry ingredients sifted together, alternately with milk. Fold in pecans. Bake in 2 layers at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

When completely cooled, ice with buttercream made from confectioner’s sugar, butter, and milk.

Notes: (1) You don’t want to chop the cooked prunes too fine as you want distinguishable bites of them in the cake. I chop each prune into three bits; (2) Prune Cake doesn’t get super fluffy (again, think of a banana nut bread), so don’t worry if it doesn’t rise much; (2) I made this week’s cake in mini muffin tins because Larry is trying to watch his weight and I didn’t want to take a big ol’ cake to him. They seem to have turned out fine. I’ve also made this cake in a sheet pan and kept in in the pan for icing and serving. Not as pretty, but it works.

I would love to hear about a dish or dessert that brings happy memories to you!

Mini Prune Cakes cooling!
Ready To Be Eaten!
Nicholas and Grandpa after yummy cake!

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