We all think turkey or ham for Christmas Day, which is traditional and so good, but who really thinks about dessert, other than apple pie, pumpkin pie or pecan pie. What a about a beautiful plum cake? Easy to make, looks stunning and tastes incredible.

With so many of my own childhood memories associated with real, homemade fresh food, normally gathered straight out of my father’s garden.

I almost take it for granted that I had a mother and father who adored and celebrated delicious food all year round (not just at the holidays).

An appreciation of good food was gently woven into the everyday lives, of my brother Michael, sister Julie and myself, without ever my parents making a big deal about it. Every night after school we would help my father pluck the fruit from the trees, dig up the crop of vegetables from the soil, then wash and prepare the fresh bounty for dinner.

 I can see my mother now in her spotted apron, giving out orders as what to do next, clean, prepare, cook, along with setting the kitchen table, filling the water glasses and folding the napkins. It was a real family affair back then.

Now, with a family of my own, I try whenever I can to pass on these memories and lessons, as I believe it’s really important for children (three young men in my case) to understand where their food comes from as they grow up and mature into adults.

So get the kids to help you make this wonderful plum cake for Christmas and start to create your own food memories. Make it the day before, so desert is covered and you can concentrate on the turkey and trimmings on Christmas day.

Then all you have to do is bring it out of the fridge, slice, serve and enjoy, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Serves 12


2 oranges

4 tablespoons golden syrup or local honey

4 plums, stones removed and flesh cut into quarters

1 cup softened butter

1 cup fine sugar

4 large eggs

½ cup ground almonds

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon almond extract

¼ cup flaked almonds

For the frosting:

1 cup softened unsalted butter

2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

How to cook:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 360’f and lightly grease and line 2x 8 inch cake tins
  2. Take a medium bowl and mix together four tablespoons of orange juice with the golden syrup.
  3. Cook the plums on a griddle pan until charred, then add to the golden syrup mixture and set aside.
  4. Whip the butter and sugar until creamy, then gradually beat in the eggs.
  5. Sieve the ground almonds, flour and baking powder with ½ teaspoon of salt.
  6. Fold the flour mixture into the eggs, along with the almond extract, orange zest and 3 tablespoons of orange juice.
  7. Divide the cake mixture between the tins and bake for 25 to30 mins then remove from the oven.
  8. Use a skewer to poke holes in the cakes, brush with the golden syrup and orange mix, then leave in the tins for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  9. For the frosting, beat the butter and sugar until smooth, then beat in the orange juice, then spread a small amount of icing on top of one of the cakes, then sandwich together and lightly ice the sides and top of the cake. Strain the plums and arrange on top with the flaked almonds. Chill before serving.
Chef Mark Allison

Mark Allison, Executive is Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out www.cabarrushealth.org/cookingclasses for more recipes and a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.

Mark Allison is Executive Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out www.cabarrushealth.org/cookingclasses for a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.  Want more recipes?  Visit www.chefmarkallison.com.

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