Brandied Prune Cake with Buttermilk Glaze

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This warm, nutty spice cake with it’s soused bits of brandied prune is over-the-top delicious when you add the tangy, buttermilk glaze. Prune cake is a vintage recipe people ask me for a lot, behind the scenes.  (I think they’d ask me up front, except admitting they like prunes still has this funny stigma with some people.) This brandied version of prune cake is my own, adapted from a 1940s recipe card in my home collection. But the idea of adding a tangy buttermilk glaze comes from writer Michael Rosen.  Placing a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven while this bakes enhances the moist texture. A good cake for a rainy day!

Makes 1, 10-inch cake

Brandied Prune Cake Ingredients

  • 1 10-inch tube-cake pan with removable bottom (an angel-food pan will work fine) & a cookie sheet to place it on
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted prunes
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups pure cane sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  tsp mace
  • 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated fine
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp Jamaiican allspice, ground
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups pecans, finely chopped (I use one bag of Trader Joe’s Unsalted Dry-toasted Pecan Pieces)
  • 1 quart boiling water to place in pan in bottom of oven

Buttermilk Glaze Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Grease all inside surfaces of the 10-inch pan.
  2. Combine prunes with brandy in a microwaveable bowl. Brandy should just cover the prunes. Heat on high for 2 minutes. Place bowl on counter and cover with a cotton towel while you mix the cake batter.
  3. Make cake batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk oil and sugar together at medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk for 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift flour spices and salt together. Set aside. In a third bowl, or large glass measuring cup, combine buttermilk with soda. Alternating the flour mixture with the buttermilk mixture, add each in alternating thirds to the eggs and sugar in the stand mixer, stirring just to incorporate what you’ve added after each addition. (Don’t over mix).
  4. Set oven rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 350.
  5. Strain off the brandy from the prunes. (Drink the brandy or save it for another use.) Chop the softened prunes and gently stir in to batter. Fold in pecans. Spread batter in cake pan.  Place an empty pan big enough to hold a quart of boiling water in the bottom of the oven; fill it with boiling water. Then, pull out the center rack of the oven place the cookie sheet on it and place the cake-batter-filled tube pan on the cookie sheet. Slide everything back in and bake for 1 hour–or up to 1 hour and 10 minutes—until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove cake from oven. Cool cake on a wire rack.
  7. While the cake cools, make glaze: In a small sauce pan over low heat, start melting butter and sugar, whisking as it softens. Stir in buttermilk and baking soda and whisk to incorporate into a smooth sauce. Don’t boil. Remove from heat.
  8. Poke holes all over cake with thin wooden skewer or toothpick: pour some of the glaze over; save the rest to serve with the cake slices. After cake has rested 1/2 hour, remove cake from the pan to a serving platter. Serve, sliced, immediately. (If not serving right away, wrap cake tightly in several layers of plastic wrap.)

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