Baking & Desserts
may 14, 2020

The Everything Torte

This is our version of Marian Burros’ beloved Plum Torte recipe, first published by The New York Times in 1983. Why "Everything"? Because it suits every occasion, makes optimal use of almost any fruit, and it bakes beautifully in a multitude of different pans.
You get to skip a lot of the usual cake making rules this time. You must still properly prepare your pan, and cream the butter and sugar together into pale yellow fluff. Those steps are essential. But then? There’s no adding of eggs one at a time, no sprinkling in of flour, no stopping and starting your mixer. Nope, this time simply add the eggs, vanilla and dry ingredients all in one go, and mix on low speed until the batter comes together. Scrape that bowl, and into the pan it goes.
Here are some tips and variations:
  • The cake batter is thick, and there’s not a lot of it. This is correct.
  • Fruit matters! Choose some that’s juicy, and tart as well as sweet. Use enough to cover the surface of the batter. We used 1 lb. (3 generous cups) of whole pitted cherries in today’s torte.
  • Baking time varies depending on the type of pan you choose. We baked the torte shown above in a shallow 9½-inch tart pan, so its surface was exposed to more air circulation, resulting in extra browning and faster baking (40 minutes). When the cake is firm and a toothpick inserted between the fruit comes out clean, it’s done.
  • Variations: The plums called for in the original recipe are superb. We have successfully substituted apples, pears, apricots, cherries, summer berries (strawberries were a little too watery), cranberries and Concord grapes! We have swapped cornmeal or almond flour for ⅓ of the flour. Almond extract instead of vanilla. Orange zest instead of lemon. Different spices or chopped nuts sprinkled on top. We have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled the recipe, baking it in multiple pans for big parties.
  • Whew! See why we call it "The Everything Torte"? We hope you love it as much as we do.
    Show off your cakes on social media using #TCKatHome, or email us with questions or feedback. We’re here to help.

    The Everything Torte

    Marian Burros' Plum Torte

    Author Jen Nurse

    This recipe for a humble one-layer cake has been reprinted and swooned over for decades. I call it "The Everything Torte", as it suits practically any occasion, from dinner party to simple breakfast. Substitute almost any juicy fruit for the plums. It's pretty baked in a 10” fluted tart pan, and I've even done it in a Pyrex pie dish and a standard loaf pan. It freezes well after baking, too.

    Adapted from: Marian Burros in the NY Times, Autumn 1983
    Yield   8 to 12 Servings


    For the Pan

    2-3 teaspoons unsalted butter

    1 tablespoon flour

    Plum Torte

    *125g all-purpose or GF Flour (1 cup)

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon kosher salt

    115g unsalted butter, at room temp (½ cup)

    1 lemon, zest of whole, juice of ½

    150g granulated sugar (¾ cup)

    2 large eggs, at room temp (about 100g)

    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

    450g Italian plums, pitted and halved (8-12)

    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Turbinado or other coarse sugar, for sprinkling


    Heat the oven to 350℉. Grease and flour an 8- to 10-inch springform pan.
    Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
    Beat the butter, lemon zest and ¾ cup sugar on medium-high speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer to scrape the paddle and insides of the bowl. If you are using a handheld mixer, alter the mixing time depending on its power.
    With the mixer off, add the eggs, vanilla and sifted dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape the bowl as needed.
    Spread the thick batter evenly in the pan. It will seem sparse, especially in a 10-inch pan. Arrange the plums, skin side up, completely covering the surface of the batter. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon and sugar (a large-grained crunchy kind, if you have it). Place the pan on a baking sheet, or wrap its base in foil to prevent the batter leaking out during baking.
    Bake for 40-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake top is golden brown. Cool in the pan on a rack for at least 1 hour, then remove the pan sides before serving. It is also excellent after resting at room temperature overnight, and wrapped leftovers keep well for several days.


    *Exchange up to ⅓ of the flour for almond flour or cornmeal. I often cut the fruit into big wedges that peek up through the batter. Great with apricots, nectarines or peaches, cherries, berries, pears, & jammy Concord grapes.