Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Prune Walnut Cake

Today, the 27th of October 2015, would have been my mother's 91st birthday.  She passed away more than 6 years ago but my memories of that sad trip back home on February of 2009 has remained vivid to me like it happened just yesterday.  Before I headed back to Melbourne, a brother asked me to look through my mom's things to see if I had wanted anything.  I took with me the simplest of things...mostly things that reminded me much of my childhood - her 1960s pinking shears, a rusty, broken Our of  Lady of Lourdes rosary (which I quickly repaired when I got home), old photographs, hers and my dad's wedding rings (for safekeeping), and this tattered cookbook...

Nora Daza's Let's Cook with Nora
The fact that I can remember this book in our kitchen shelf from when I was a child must mean that it's likely a first edition (the book being first published in 1969).  Surely, I have browsed through these pages hundreds and hundreds of times in my lifetime!  

One of the cake recipes in the book is that of a prune cake. To be honest, I never was interested in trying out this cake BUT since it's my mom's birthday and I particularly remember that she loved snacking on prunes, I thought, why not?

If you are familiar with the prune walnut cake of Becky's Kitchen, then you'd most likely recognize this. 

Actual prune walnut cake of Becky's Kitchen (Image credit: Flickr)

To make the cake this way, I did not follow Nora Daza's recipe to a T. First of all, I had to obviously add walnuts to the cake batter. Also, I had to scale the recipe down as I only wanted a small cake.  

One thing I found unnecessary was stewing the prunes (as instructed in the recipe) because the prunes I bought were already pitted and very soft (as in mashable soft).  

I made a few other minor changes to some of the other ingredients then I was ready to bake.  If you are skeptical like I was before about a cake with prunes, then you have got to just trust me on this one - you will love it! The cake is tender and moist and because it has prunes, it must be good for you, right? :)

PRUNE WALNUT CAKE (suitable for a 7x7 pan)


1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar, divided
2 large eggs, separated
3/8 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup soft, pitted prunes, chopped/mashed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

**optional: 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (if you like a touch of cinnamon taste to your cake!)


Preheat oven to 180 degC. Grease and flour a 7x7 cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper. 
In a small bowl, whisk  cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and ground cinnamon, if using). 
In a mixing bowl, using a paddle attachment, cream butter and 1/2 cup of the caster sugar until light and fluffy. 
Add in the eggyolks one at a time. 
In three additions, beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately. 
Blend in the prunes and beat just until combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggwhites until frothy. Gradually add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until eggwhites form stiff peaks.

Fold eggwhites into flour mixture in three additions. With the last addition, fold in the walnuts as well. 

Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and/or the cake sides are just starting to pull away from the pan.  Do not overbake!

Take cake out of the oven and let rest in a wire rack for about 10 minutes then invert and release from pan. Let cool completely in the wire rack.

NOTE: Unlike chiffon, this cake does not rise much so don't expect a tall cake!

To assemble the cake:

1. Make Swiss meringue buttercream using the procedure here but with these ingredients:

2 eggwhites
1/2 cup white sugar
150 grams unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Alternatively, you can opt to make the easier Old-fashioned butter icing with these ingredients:

150 grams unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2.  Fit a smalll piping bag with a petal tip 104. Or if you have a ruffle tip 88 (like the one I used), you can also choose that.  Fill it with about 1/2 cup of the buttercream.

This is tip 88.

3.  Beat in 1/3-1/2 cup of mashed prunes into the remaining buttercream.  Now you have a prune flavoured version!

4.  Cut your cake horizontally in half.  Place top half, cut side up, on a cake board.

5.  Spread a thin layer of prune buttercream.

6.  Top with the other cake half, cut side down.

7.  Cover the whole cake with the rest of the prune buttercream,  (I skipped crumb coating this time.)

8.  Using  a cake comb, make wavy patterns on the cake sides and top.

9.  Using the buttercream in your piping bag, pipe ruffles/garlands along the cake sides.

10.  Divide the cake top into three sections by piping straight ruffles from bottom to top.

11.  Take 6 whole pitted prunes, flatten them slightly and cut 2 slits on one side of each.

12. Arrange half walnuts and prunes alternately on top of the straight ruffles.

Yey, that's it!  A prune walnut cake that looks similar (and hopefully) tastes just like Becky's Kitchen's!

Give it a go!


  1. Thank you Ms. Corinne! This is my fave cake. God Bless. :)

  2. That's my favorite Becky's cake. I think it has a touch of cinnamon in the cake.

    1. I have not tasted that cake so had no way of knowing. Thanks for pointing it out. Maybe add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon?

  3. Miss Corinne your Mum and my daughter share the same birthday. I made her the hazelnut cake and she loved it. Thanks for sharing your cake recipes.

  4. Hi Ms. Corinne, thanks for sharing your tried and tested all time Pinoy favorite recipes and I have tried some of them which turned out great!
    Have you heard of Pastillas Fondant? Its the latest trend of dessert back home.

    1. Nope, never heard of pastills fondant (probably because I'm not really interested in any kind of fondant!).

  5. If I were to use this recipe for standard-sized cupcakes how long do you think I should bake it for? Should the temperature be increased too?

    1. I don't think you need to change the temperature. Try baking for 20-22 minutes.

    2. Copy that. Will give it a try soon.

  6. Hi Corinne! I took the same things home too! My Mom's rosaries, cookbooks, pictures and silly things... You're blog is my favorite. Congratulations!

  7. Happy New Year, Corinne! Do you think prunes could be substituted with dates here? I have a kilo of pitted dates and my mom wants me to make cake out of it. :-)

    1. I think you can but you probably have to cook the dates first to soften it.

      Have you tried making sticky date pudding? That's even a better alternative! Yum!

    2. Never heard of it actually. Haha! Do you have any recommended recipe link? I've got to be careful about the recipe I use because the tanderkats here at home tend to complain too much if I make things too sweet for their liking. (-.-)

    3. I usually just buy sticky date pudding BUT do remember making it once. Not quite sure what recipe I used but I found this page bookmarked in our computer so it is possibly it:


      I must say though that this type of dessert is quite sweet, considering it is slathered in butterscotch sauce!

    4. Let me just add - you can make the cakes in individual ramekins instead of a whole cake.

    5. Great! Thank you very much, Corinne!

    6. Corinne, the pudding was too sweet even without the sauce. Haha! That's okay, though. At least I have free merienda for one week at work.

    7. Corinne, something weird happened with the date pudding. The batter to me was very sweet, but the baked product was well-liked by my parents, uncles and aunts. An older cousin who is married to a bakeshop-chain in Palawan even said that it was very good.

  8. Hi Corinne!

    It's a holiday weekend here, so I found some time to try this recipe. It was delicious! The cake was extremely moist. The seniors that ate it took more of a liking to it than the younger ones. It's definitely a flavor profile that's more for the older generation. (One even joked about how they were looking forward to the laxative effect of prunes after eating!)

    I tweaked the recipe a little, though. My family doesn't like it when the can detect cinnamon in a dish or dessert, so I only put 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and added a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. This seemed to do the trick; the cinnamon flavor in the final cake wasn't in your face. Also, the inside of my cake turned out blonder than yours. I think it was because I left the prunes in chunks rather than mashing them, which would have let the pulp release its dark color.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for trying this out! i didn't even put cinnamon in my cake. I just added it to the list because someone suggested it :)

  9. Hi! I only have 8" round cake pans, how long should I bake the cakes for? Thank you! ☺️

    1. More or less the same amount of time as stated in the recipe as an 8" round pan has about the same volume as the 7" square that I used (assuming your pan is 3" high as well). But as I always say, different ovens behave differently so check your cake at about 35 minutes to determine the cake's doneness.

  10. you do not know how you made me so happy today, corinne! becky's prune and walnut cake is my all-time fave. and since i dont live in makati anymore, i seldom have the chance to go there and indulge myself. so finding this recipe today truly makes my day. thank you!

  11. Hi Corinne,i've tried some of your recipes and they were sooo good,everyone who tasted it really liked them. I'm just wondering if i can use the above recipe as substitute for Christmas fruit cake,maybe just add more nuts and fruits ,do you think it will work? Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes .

    1. It will probably work but you might want to toss the fruits and nuts in some flour to prevent them from all sinking to the bottom of the cake.

    2. Thanks for your quick response. 'Thinking of experimenting with bourbon or rum.I'll let you know the outcome.Thanks again.