April 16, 2012


This cake was made for Dom’s birthday.  Well actually for the second birthday of his blog, Bellau Kitchen, and his Random Recipe Challenge for April, which was to pile up all your baking books and choose one at random.

prune cake1

My random selection turned up this book by Annie Bell, yet another one that I bought because I had seen it in other blogs. 

prune cake2The book is stuffed full of – as the title suggests – gorgeous looking cakes.  The book plopped open at a page that had two recipes so I chose to bake the chocolate prune cake for my Random Recipe.  I have made chocolate cakes with beetroot or courgettes before, but never prunes, so Dom, I hope you like prunes !!

randomrecipes I packed the book and took it with me when we went to France for our Easter holiday, knowing I would have more time to enjoy baking while we were there.

prune cake3 prune cake4

This is one of those gloriously gooey chocolate cakes made mainly with ground almonds but also including a generous amount of rum and a whole packet of prunes.  The method is easy enough to follow but requires a lot of different processes in separate bowls, not to mention two different electric machines, producing a lot of washing up.

prune cake5 prune cake6

You have to beat the butter, sugar and eggs in a food processor, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  You melt the chocolate in another bowl, toss the sliced prunes in flour in a bowl and whisk the egg whites in yet another bowl.  This is on top of any other bowls you have used to measure out the ingredients and separate the eggs.

Speaking of food processors, Nick bought me a lovely new Magimix for my 60th birthday last December.  I know, I know, we did talk diamonds or fur but I thought I would have more fun with a Magimix.  So we took my 1980’s Braun processor, almost on its last legs, to France where it is proving to be most useful and may well last another twenty years for all I know.  That’s if I don’t drop the lid again and knock the last two remaining locking pegs off !!

prune cake7 prune cake8

Anyway, I came slightly unstuck with the baking tin.  The recipe said a deep 20cm tin but I only had an ordinary shallow 20cm tin in my little French kitchen.  This is the problem with pursuing my passion for baking in France.  That is where I found I had the time to do it and how much I enjoyed it, but the kitchen simply isn’t big enough to house a vast collection of baking tins like I have collected at home in the UK so I have to make do.  Quel dommage !!

Once I got going I realised I was going to end up with a huge quantity of mixture which would be way too much for my tin so at the last minute I changed my mind and greased and lined my biggest tin instead – a shallow 23cm tin. (Thereby creating extra washing up with my unused but greased small tin !!)

The cake cracked alarmingly and even after the full 70 minutes I couldn’t make my mind up if it was cooked or not, but the edges were beginning to look a little brown so I decided to risk it and take it out of the oven.

prune cake9Once it had cooled for a while, and subsided a bit, the cracks looked less alarming and were hardly noticeable at all once I had dusted it with icing sugar and piled some chocolate raisins on top, as per the picture in the book.

prune cake9a It was delicious and went down very well with coffee in the spring sunshine.

prune cake9b It was gooey on the inside with a slightly crunchy crust.  It also went well with a glass of rosé later on – well we were on holiday, even if it was only a Thursday afternoon !!

prune cake9c Definitely a recipe I will do again.  And very adaptable to a gluten free recipe considering there was only one tablespoon of flour for coating the prunes, which could be replaced, I imagine, with cornflour or rice flour.

prune cake9d And it was so good, I really didn’t mind the huge amount of washing up !!

This is what I used.

150g dark chocolate, min 50% cocoa solids

225g unsalted butter

225g light muscovado sugar

4 eggs, separated

100ml rum

200g ground almonds

1tsp baking powder

250g ready to eat, stoned prunes, roughly chopped or sliced

1 tblsp plain flour

icing sugar and chocolate raisins for decoration

This is what you do.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°fan/gas mk 5.  Butter and base line a 23cm springform cake tin.

Break the chocolate into squares and melt in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Stir and put on one side to cool.

Cut the butter into cubes and put into a food processor with the sugar.  Beat until pale and creamy. 

Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beat again to combine.

Add the rum and melted chocolate and beat again.  Beat in the ground almonds and baking powder.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

In another separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until the stiff peak stage.  Fold into the mixture in two halves.

Put the chopped prunes into yet another bowl with the flour and toss with your hands so the fruit is well coated with flour. Fold into the chocolate cake mixture.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.  Bake for 60-70 minutes until “a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean”, which in my case it never did, because it is a very gooey cake.

Loosen the cake from the tin by running a knife around the edge and leave in the tin to cool.

Dust with icing sugar and pile some chocolate raisins artistically on top for decoration – these are optional.

Cuts into approx 12 slices.


  1. Great, thank you. As you know I'll be going gluten free in a month's time when my BIL is here, so a GF recipe now is pounced on by me.

    Is there any explanation of why one needs to coat the prunes in flour? Doesn't seem worth it to me.

    Feel free (gluten or otherwise) to ring me if you are in France and borrow tins or equipment.

    1. Susan, coating the fruit helps it mix more evenly in the cake mix... it doesn't need to be flour though, just something to keep the sticky fruit 'dry' until it is mixed into the cake... we were thinking gluten free for the recipe and decided that tossing them in the ground almonds would most likely work.... I can vouch that the cake was absolutely disgusting... but Jean wouldn't let me martyr myself by finishing it so that no one else had to suffer!! Shame... still I managed three goes... great cake Jean!

    2. Tim, thanks for explaining, glad you enjoyed the cake.

    3. Susan, I have a couple more gluten free recipes coming up - watch this space.
      You have to use gluten free baking powder or cream of tartar and bicarb, as ordinary baking powder has wheat in it.
      1tsp baking powder = 1tsp cream of tartar + ½tsp bicarb.
      Thanks for the offer of tins.....it could be very helpful !!

  2. I love prunes, Nigel hates them!!! Diane

    1. Diane, I think the cake would also work well with the same weight of raisins....worth a try !!

  3. A deeply misunderstood beast is our friend the prune. I think the combination of prunes and chocolate produces a lovely intense flavour. I've made Ottolenghi's chocolate and prune cake in the past and I seem to remember that made a lot of washing up as well. My 1980s Braun processor is still doing sterling work although I've had to glue a bit of the lid back on following a minor dropping incident.

    1. Phil, the glue only lasted a couple of goes with mine !!

  4. I adore prunes but to be honest, prunes and rum in a cake... what's not to like...? and how incredibly moist does this cake look...? Wowzers!... and wowzers to that pile of washing up... that is a LOT of washing up honey, for which I thank you... and thanks for taking part... a perfect celebration cake!

    1. Dom, I wonder how many people get prunes in their birthday cake ?!

  5. I actually don't mind the combination of chocolate and prunes. It's quite delicious.

    1. Spencer, it was and I shall make it again as a result.

  6. Looks fab. Prunes get a bad reputation as something only your granny would eat in order to get her bowels moving.

    In reality, those who have never tried them are missing out ! I've got some steeping in plum liquer in the fridge. They've been there a couple of weeks, so are more than infused and ready to bake with. Typically, I forgot about them yesterday and did something else instead.

    Your dishes made me laugh. I get told I use everything available in the kitchen. Likely, I'd have twice that amount. Yikes !

    1. Sarah-Jane, I wondered if we would get through the whole post without the b-word !!

      I once made a clafoutis with prunes steeped overnight in brandy and it was fabulous. Yours should definitely be about ready to do something with !!

  7. This cake looks really moist and with a mix of Prunes, chocolate and rum where could you go wrong. So after all the washing up there was the consolation of a very tasty piece of cake. GG

  8. Super use of chocolate. It would be great if you linked it up to this week's Food on Friday: Chocolate