Marian Burros’s fruit torte

This famous cake recipe – simple, buttery perfection – was originally included in Marian Burros and Lois Levine’s Elegant but Easy Cookbook in 1960. By popular request, it was published annually in the New York Times from 1981 until its official retirement in 2005.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 24 halves pitted Italian prune plums
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon, to taste, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a springform (8, 9 or 10 inches) or cake pan.
  2. Cream sugar and butter in a bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Spoon the batter into prepared pan. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter, forming circles from the outer edge of the pan toward the center. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, or to taste.
  4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool to lukewarm, and serve.

Makes 8 servings.


  • To freeze, double-wrap the torte in foil, place in a plastic bag, and seal. Defrost and serve at room temperature, or warm in 300 degree F oven before serving.
  • Marian and Lois’s apple-cranberry version: in place of plums, use three medium apples, peeled, cored, sliced into 1/2 inch slices (tossed with lemon juice if you like) and 1/3 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water (some to sprinkle on top and rest added to batter). Arrange apple slices, overlapping slightly, forming circles from the outer edge of the pan toward the center. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of sugar with 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon; sprinkle on top of apples.
  • Try peaches, apricots or berries in the summer. Or pears in the fall. Use a sprinkle of nutmeg instead of cinnamon for a subtler taste and lighter look.
  • You can also add vanilla or almond extract. But use sparingly, as the extracts tend to detract from the buttery taste of the cake.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

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