Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

DessertBakingQuick and EasyPlum

This Plum Walnut Skillet Cake is almost as easy at it is gorgeous. Batter takes minutes to make in the food processor. Use any variety of plums you like.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

When was the last time you threw a cake together in 15 minutes? Well, this one delivers and it will make you so happy!

Juicy plums are excellent for eating out of hand, but baking with them is one of the finest pleasures of summer. Their flesh is sweet and their skins are tart, so they inspire use in tarts, crumbles, muffins, coffee cakes — or in this case, an easy walnut cake.

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The walnuts also give moistness and earthy flavor to the cake, which is heavily scented with the zest of an entire lemon. The whole dough can be made in a few minutes in the food processor.

Bonus points: You don’t even have to peel the plums!

Plum Walnut Skillet CakeYou can use any kind of plum you like in this recipe. When I shopped for this cake, I bought two different kinds of plums and was surprised to see that the colors inside each of them were so different.

Color coordination just doesn’t matter, because the end result is a cake that is gorgeous no matter what, and even better to eat.

As the season goes on, make sure to try this cake with other fruits like apples, pears, or late-season peaches. Heck, even cranberries would be a great choice for this easy cake.

Bring this cake along on a picnic, to a potluck, or just share it with your family for a special weeknight treat.

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings


  • Butter (for the pan)
  • 5 to 6 firm plums (about 1 pound)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts halves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into slices
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)

Special equipment:


1 Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a 10-inch ovenproof skillet with a heatproof handle or a 9-inch cake pan. Halve, pit, and thinly slice the plums.

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

2 Grind the walnuts: In a food processor or a nut mill, very finely chop the walnuts. Transfer to a bowl.

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

3 Make the batter: Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of the food processor and process until creamy, 30 to 60 seconds.

Add the eggs one at a time, and process after each addition, until fluffy. Add the lemon zest, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt, and pulse just until the batter is smooth.

Finally, add the ground walnuts and pulse to mix them into the batter. The batter will be thick.

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake Plum Walnut Skillet Cake Plum Walnut Skillet Cake Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

4 Assemble the cake: Scrape the batter into the skillet and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.

Lay slices of plums in a ring around the outside edge of the pan, overlapping the slices slightly. Arrange a second ring of slices inside the first, and then fill in the very middle of the cake with the remaining slices. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake Plum Walnut Skillet Cake Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

5 Bake the cake: Begin checking the cake around 35 minutes, and continue baking (checking every 5 to 10  minutes) until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Total cooking time is typically 40 to 50 minutes.

Set the skillet on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

6 Brush with honey (optional): The cake is sweet enough as it is, but if you want to add a little shine for an even more beautiful presentation, heat the honey in the microwave for 10 seconds and brush the cake with it.

7 Serve the cake straight from the skillet.

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Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

More from Sally

10 Comments / Reviews

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  1. ana

    This looks amazing! I’m pretty sure there was a similar recipe for a plum tart on this blog that required baking it in a tart pan and used Italian plums. It also had walnuts in it. It looked different but had similar ingredients. I’ve made it a few times in the fall and it was always super delicious. I’m looking for it but can’t find it :(. Was it removed?

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  2. Kaja

    Can I use canned plums?

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  3. Eva

    Baked it last night, was so good!!!! Didn’t have a food processor but used a hand mixer and still turned out beautifully. Thank you for giving us this wonderful recipe!

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  4. Freena

    I just moved and I only have a bundt cake tray. If I make this as an upside down bundt cake, do you think it would work, or do I need to make modifications?


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  5. Elle B.

    Similar to the one of the most often published NYT recipes from the wonderful Marian Burros which I’ve made to raves many times.
    I like the addition of walnuts in this version. It’s such an adaptable cake!

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