Ole Fashioned Southern Sugar Plum Cake

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Filled with spices, walnuts, and dried plums, this sugar plum cake recipe (also known as prune cake) is a delicious Southern version of fruit cake to bake this Christmas.

Sugar Plum Cake

This sugar plum cake is one of my mother’s cherished recipes that her mother used to make her as a child, especially at Christmas time. I’ve heard her talk about it for years and it’s been decades since she had one so I decided to snatch the recipe and surprise her with it last week.  Merry Christmas, Mama!

Sugar plum cake is an old-fashioned Southern recipe that basically resembles a traditional fruit cake. Besides the usual cake batter ingredients, your sugar plum cake is loaded with chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), cinnamon and allspice, vanilla extract, and dried plums (also known as prunes, but people like seem to like dried plums more than prunes nowadays 😉).

It’s served with a deliciously sweet sauce, so you know each slice of this spiced prune cake is going to be scrumptiously dense, moist, and tender. 

Sugar Plum Cake ingredients

Recipe Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Chopped nuts (I used walnuts because they are cheaper than pecans)
  • Eggs
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Allspice
  • Vanilla extract
  • Buttermilk
  • Oil
  • Dried plums (pitted prunes)

chop up the plums

Chop prunes or dried plums up so they’re the size of raisins.

If you get any with the pits in them, remove them and discard them (that’s fancy talk for “throwaway”).

I buy the packets of pitted prunes.

add flour to the plums

Place the sliced plums in a large bowl and add your flour.

mix the plums up in the flour

Toss this flour mixture up a bit. This will help keep the chopped prunes from sinking all the way down into the cake when it is baking.

add oil

Add oil to the prune mixture.

add 1 cup buttermilk

Then buttermilk.

add 3 eggs

Next, add eggs to the cake batter.

add the nuts (optional)

Then add the nuts (which you can leave out if your life is nutty enough).

add one tsp vanilla

Add vanilla extract.

add 1 tsp all spice and 1 tsp cinnamon plus baking soda

Then the spices, baking soda, and salt.

add 1/2 tsp salt and 1.5 cups sugar

Finally, add the sugar.

after you mix all the ingredients, grease pan

Mix that up with an electric or stand mixer and then grease your cake pan.

I’m using a bundt cake pan, but Mama says her mother used to use a 9×13 cake pan, so go with whatever is easiest for you. If you’re going to use a 9×13 though, just spray it with a little cooking spray and you’ll be fine.

Us bundt users need to smear shortening in our pan.

add flour in the pan and spread it around to cover

Then sprinkle some flour into your bundt cake pan. Pat that around a bit to coat it and then discard the excess.

this is the sugar plum cake batter all mixed up

Here is our spice cake batter all mixed up.

Go ahead, you know you wanna lick the beater!

pour the batter in the pan

Pour that into your prepared pan…

and bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

put sauce ingredients in a pot, one stick butter, 1.5 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup buttermilk

Prepare the sauce

When that is getting ready to come out of the oven or shortly after, you need to assemble your sauce ingredients: vanilla, buttermilk, sugar, butter, and baking soda.

mix that all together on the stove top

Add all of that together in a pot.

Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. It will foam up a little but that’s okay.

Keep stirring and cooking until it thickens a bit, about two minutes.

poke holes in the cake

Poke holes all over the top of your hot prune cake.

pour the sauce over the top of the sugar plum cake.

Pour the hot sauce over the hot cake.

Sauce poured over sugar plum or prune cake.

Let sit for about 10 minutes or so in the pan until it absorbs all of the sauce.

Baked sugar plum cake or prune cake.

Then turn it out.

Serve warm or cold. It’s excellent with a dollop of homemade whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Inside sugar plum cake or prune cake.

Now I see why Mama has missed this cake so much. It was WONDERFUL!


  • Store cake leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • You can also store cooled cake leftovers in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • Remember, you can use whichever nuts you like, including chopped pecan pieces or slivered almonds for something different.
  • Instead of the sauce, you can also serve your prune cake with cream cheese frosting. Check out this recipe for pumpkin praline cake with cream cheese frosting for instructions.

Here are more old-fashioned Southern dessert recipes:

Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake Recipe

Yellow Cake with Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Icing

M&M Cookies Recipe by Mama (Old-Fashioned Recipe!)

Tea Cake Cookies (Old-Fashioned and Crispy)

Easy Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler Recipe

Peanut Butter Pie Made the Old-Fashioned Way

slice of sugar plum cake

Sugar Plum Cake

Filled with rich spices, walnuts, and dried plums, this sugarplum cake recipe is a delicious Southern fruit cake to bake this Christmas.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake
Servings: 4
Calories: 416kcal


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon* or 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried plums chopped
  • 1 ½ cup chopped nuts I used walnuts


  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cups buttermilk


  • Grease and flour a bundt or 9x13 cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all cake ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for one hour.
    2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups sugar, 3 eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp allspice, 2 tsp cinnamon*, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup dried plums, 1 ½ cup chopped nuts
  • Just before the cake is done, place all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and continue boiling gently until sauce is thickened, or about two minutes.
    1 stick butter, 1 ½ cups sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract, ½ cups buttermilk, ½ tsp baking soda
  • Remove the baked cake from the oven and poke holes all over the top with a fork. Pour the hot sauce over the hot cake. Allow the cake to sit in the pan until the sauce is absorbed.


Calories: 416kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


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  1. Christy….what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. I agree with everything you said. True and lasting love cannot be measured by the size or cost of your wedding rings. One of the happiest couples that I know have only simple gold bands. They are a couple that I admire for their relationship and their dedication to each other. Sometimes I think that in this materialistic world that I am alone in my feelings. Thanks for reminding me that I am not!

  2. I love where you mix your dried plums with flour to keep them from “singing” all the way to the bottom of the cake. I just hate singing fruit! Not being critical at all – it just struck me as funny and I needed a good laugh!

  3. First let me tell you I tried to leave a comment using Firefox and I couldn’t but it seems to be letting me on IE.

    I too have a cz engagement ring and a simple gold band that means more to me than any diamond would.

    I love the “dried plum” recipe. Looks yummy and I am trying it tomorrow. First I have to go buy the plums since all I have is prunes! LOL

  4. After reading your wonderful perspective about cherishing things for the sentiment behind them, I applaud your parents for raising a child to have such awesome family values. I believe that there are many of us SP folks that cherish the things like a child’s homemade ornament or a hand-written note over expensive things. I am sure some people may not even have an engagement ring, or the promise ring given from a soft drink in the form of a “pull-tab”. I’ll bet their love ran just a deep as folks doing the “2-month salary” amount. I always treasure anything my honey pie hubby gives me and things from my children too. Thanks for saying it so eloquently.
    The Sugar Plum cake looks like a prize winning recipe. I hope to try it soon.

  5. Thank you for sharing that story about your wedding ring. I’ve always been really simple when it comes to jewelry – aside from my wedding ring, I don’t wear it! I can’t even tell the difference between CZ and “real” diamonds… my wedding ring is tanzanite, I believe – I wanted something prettier than diamonds.

    My son hates loud noises – he hates the vacuum the most, he’ll run into the bedroom and close the door. He’ll run away when I turn on the mixer… but only for a moment. Before I’m even halfway done with it, he’ll be right back, asking to lick the batter! It’s been a fun way of getting him over his dislike of loud noises.

    I love Patrick’s reindeer sweater!

  6. Christy, I think your rings are beautiful! I have never understood the meaning behind the whole ” rings must cost 2 months salary and such” as I believe they should be given with the heart and not the wallet. My rings were about $300 and are my most cherished piece of jewelry and the only jewelry I actually wear on a daily basis, my husband picked them out on his own and they are absolutely what I would have chosen which makes it all the more special!

    Thanks for another great read!

    BTW–the cake looks divine and are you sure you are not from NFLD as many of your sayings are the same as ours–too funny!

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