Plum and poppyseed cake

I’m always looking for new cake ideas –  in this case dairy-free and using poppyseed – and was unimpressed by what I could find in my research. And then I realised that I have a recipe that is infinitely adjustable: my super-reliable carrot cake recipe is dairy-free using a neutral vegetable oil (but a light olive oil also works very well). I swapped out the carrot, cinnamon and sultanas for plums, poppy seeds and lemon zest the result was a huge success – I now want to try it with rhubarb and stem ginger, banana and date, and at least million other twists.

Oil-based cakes are always more damp than a butter-based sponge, and the fruit makes it even more moist. Have it for tea, simply dusted with icing sugar, or with a glug of cream for dessert. A light drizzle of glacé icing made with lemon juice and icing sugar would also set it off nicely.


Serves 10-12

1 dessert apple, grated (discard the core)

6 ripe plums, stoned and each cut in 6 half-moons

45g poppy seeds

zest of 1 lemon

170ml light olive oil

225g c/sugar

2 medium eggs

10ml vanilla paste

225g plain flour

.5tsp Bicarb

.5 tsp baking powder

.5tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 170C and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.

Prepare the fruit: grate the apple, stone and cut the plums, zest the lemon. Combine in a bowl with the poppy seeds and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl weigh out the sugar and oil and whisk until pale and frothy. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk again.

Stir the dry ingredients together before adding to the wet mix in two stages, mixing well.

Save 6 or 8 slices of plum for decoration, and tip the rest of the fruit, seeds and zest in to the mix, mixing well.

Pour the mix into the prepared tin, smooth over the top and then press the reserved plums in to the top, skin-side up.

Tap the tin to settle the mix, then bake in the middle of the oven for 50-65 minutes until well-risen, browned on top and firm to the touch.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning out. Dust with icing sugar or make a quick glacé icing with 150g icing sugar slaked with a few teaspoonfuls of lemon juice and drizzle over the top.

Why not also have a look at my sticky gingerbread recipe, which makes great use of treacle, ginger and cinnamon.

© Linda Galloway 2021

Plum and poppyseed olive oil cake