Aoife Noonan: One of my favourite recipes ever — plum hazelnut cake

There are various coloured plums available now, each with a slightly different flavour

Roasting any type of stone fruit will enhance its flavour many times; a cheat if you will. This works particularly well if your fruit happens to be slightly underripe as it helps it along and concentrates all that sweet honey fruitiness.

I adore plums. Their slight sourness is the draw for me, lip-puckering and tangy. I welcome the change from the sweet fruit of the summer once the weather starts to get cooler. Plums are such a beautiful and versatile fruit, great in jams, compotes, or baked into tarts. There are always various coloured plums on the supermarket shelves at this time of the year, each with a slightly different flavour.

This cake is one of my favourite recipes I’ve ever written for this column. It is stunning in its rustic simplicity, but still gives a wow-factor. The plums are sliced and arranged in concentric circles around the base of a cake tin and a light hazelnut sponge is piled on top, so that once baked, the plums burst and meld into each other and into the sponge, before being turned out to reveal a gorgeous ruby-red upside-down plum cake. Use a mix of plums if you can find them.

The hazelnut works well with the plums here to give it a nutty, slightly earthy flavour, along with cinnamon and some orange zest, giving another nod to the changing seasons. There is another addition to the recipe to ensure a super shiny finish on the plums once the cake is turned out: a mixture of melted honey and butter is poured on the base of the tin before the plums are arranged. This extra step adds flavour as well as giving the plums shine and is well worth including.


Use a loose bottomed tin if you have one, it always makes it much easier to remove the cake once baked, just wrap a sheet or two of foil around the outside of the base of the tin to ensure that no melted butter and honey mix seep out.

This week’s recipe will unfortunately be the last in my bake column for The Irish Times Magazine as I move on to my next venture in sunny Sydney, Australia. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing, recipe testing and connecting with so many readers over the past two years through this column. Hopefully I have managed to inspire a few budding bakers around the country.

Recipe: Plum hazelnut cake