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. I wanted to relate a story about rings. I have 3 kids – 2 girls and a boy. The girls had gotten my moms wedding set, but I told my son he could have mine when I died.
    At the time I had had colon cancer and survived, 2 liver transplants w/in a year. The docs at that time said I would probably survive 5 years, enough time to finish raising my kids – 11,13 and 19.
    That’s when I promised my son my rings. Well, I survived and am still going strong at 20 yrs transplanted. 5 years ago my son found his wife and said, ” Mom, I know you’re not dead, but can I have the stones in your engagement ring for my engagement ring?” He was almost ready to graduate from college, had just gotten out of the navy and was poor. So before Christmas, we had the stones reset in his future wife’s new ring.
    Those stones had already seen a number of miracles w me, but they continue to see miracles. My granddaughter was born at 24 weeks weighing 1 lb 2 oz and 11 1/2 in long. She spent most of the past 1 1/2 yrs in the hospital, many times not being given much chance of survival. But she’s stubborn like me. Tell her she can’t and she will.
    Personally, I believe that God personally blessed those stones and our family. After all, doesn’t He have a southern drawl!!

  2. HI,
    I’d like to know if anyone has made this in small loaf pans … for gift giving ? can someone tell me if there is a difference in the bake temp. or the bake time ??

  3. Well, you made me think about my beautiful ring! But first let me tell you about the most expensive Apple pie I ever made! Make the crust, peel the apples,add sugar, and bake. Clean off your cutting board of of apple cores, and put the apple cores in the garbage disposal., Now turn on the disposal, and say ” My those apple cores are tough just listen to that grinding sound! ya you guessed It! When I served the apple pie to my family, I said”enjoy the apple pie, It cost $500.00 ! Ladies, Never take off any rings for any reason, a dirty ring on the hand, is better than your engagement ring DOWN THE DRAIN! love all your stories and recipes!

  4. Aw that made me smile. My ring was cut off my finger during an operation about 4 years ago. We are just waiting to get the money together to get it fixed. I think your engagement ring and wedding band are the most special item you can have from your husband. My husband had to have an engagement ring to give me before he would ask me to marry him, even though I told him it was ok – I didn’t need one. Have a blessed day!

  5. What a magical love story!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing it with us!! Also, thank you for sharing another great Christmastime recipe to add to my collection!! My to do baking list is getting quite lengthy!!! I better get to it!!!! 😀

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