Pioneer Woman Prune Spice Cake

Pioneer Prune Spice Cake

Pioneer Prune Spice Cake

prune3Don’t let the name fool you, this cake just rocks. Everyone who tries it, loves it. Ignore the prune thing if you must, but we do suggest you try this cake. It’s easy to make, sweet, super-moist and has a touch of spice. Perfect for dessert or breakfast, even the occasional snack. Very good stuff.

prune5prune7The only reason we feel a bit sheepish about posting this recipe is that we barely adapted it at all. The original recipe (“Iny’s Prune Cake With Buttermilk Icing”) comes from the Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond’s bestselling cookbook. I picked this cookbook up a few years ago for Carolyn without knowing much about the Pioneer Woman, but I was perusing some cookbooks (something I may do a bit too often) and I checked a few recipes, and they looked good. Now that we have cookbook, it is one of our regulars, particularly for breakfast dishes. We don’t think Pioneer Woman needs any help from us, but the cookbook and blog are worth a look.

prune8prune9We call this cake a “breakfast” dish because that’s when we serve it. But you can make and serve this cake any time. It may not look like much, but after the first bite you will be sold. Making the cake is easy, too. The only extra step is rehydrating and mashing the prunes. Then you make the standard wet / dry cake batter with a few spices and boil up a quick icing. Bake the cake, layer the icing on top and serve.

prune11prune12Now let’s talk about this prune thing. Regardless of “therapeutic” uses and a terrible sounding name, prunes are a very useful cooking ingredient. Prunes add deep, complex sweetness to many dishes. Prunes also play incredibly well with both herbs and spices, so you can use them in sweet and savory dishes. We use prunes with sage in our dressings / stuffings for holiday roasts and they take the flavors over the top. So if you still aren’t onboard with prunes, try this cake, it is a very good introduction. And if you just can’t stand the idea of prunes, make it anyway and just call it a Plum Cake. We won’t tell.

prune13prune4Pioneer Woman Prune Spice Cake:

(Barely adapted from the Pioneer Woman Cooks)

Notes Before You Start:

  • This recipe has the icing as a distinct layer on top of the cake. But if you want it to soak more into the cake, poke some holes in the top of the cake before icing.


What You Get: Sweet, moist and spicy cake in less than an hour.

What You Need: No special equipment required. Overcoming fear of prunes.

How Long? A little less than an hour. Anytime dish.


(Makes 1, 9×13 inch cake)


  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can sub 1/2 white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. Place the prunes in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a low boil and cook until soft, about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain the prunes. Mash with a fork until mostly smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice.
  4. In a large bowl mix together the sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined (there will be a few lumps, that is OK). Add the mashed prunes to the batter, mix, and then pour into the buttered baking pan.
  5. Place the cake in the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overcook the cake, it should be moist.
  6. Meanwhile, when the cake has about 5 minutes left, start the icing. In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, buttermilk, butter, baking soda, corn syrup and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the icing has a light caramel color, 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Do not overcook, you need to pour the icing on the cake.
  7. Take the cake from the oven and allow to cool for just a minute or two. Then, while the cake is very warm, pour the icing over the cake and spread it evenly with a spatula. Serve.

37 thoughts on “Pioneer Woman Prune Spice Cake

  1. huh…not a dish I would’ve tried otherwise, but you’ve (once again) convinced me to give something new a shot. It does indeed sound delish the way you described it. And I’m sitting with a huge sack of prunes (er, that’s dried plums now, yes?) for snacking (I do like one or so at a time, but have never baked with them). Why not? Thanks:-)

    • It is a very good cake. The kids polished it off in a heartbeat.

      BTW, rehydrated, diced prunes w/ mushrooms and herbs in stuffing, or just as a side, work really well.

  2. It’s a shame really that prunes get such a bad rap. Dr. Phil, (of all people) put out a cookbook (can’t remember the name of the book which I borrowed from the library), and in it had a dish that used prunes in a stew. Something about the recipe made me want to try it so I did. When I looked inside my pot at the finished dish, I nearly gagged at the prunes floating in the stew. They just looked so bad! Why is that???? But I tried it and it was so good! In fact, it was so good, I wrote the recipe on one of my recipe cards so that I would make it again. Your prune cake sounds like a winner and so does the stuffing. I’m going to try the cake but without the icing, maybe I’ll do a dusting of powdered sugar instead because if it’s really good, I might want a second helping!

    • Thanks!

      The prunes dont look good, so rehydrating and mincing or mashing help mask the less-than-attractive prunes.

      And powdered sugar would work just fine. The cake is moist enough that the icing is good, but optional…

  3. This might be beyond your experience – I don’t know if you guys have tinkered with gluten free flour at all – but moist cakes tend to work well with gluten free flour because it tends to be on the dry side. Any insight on how this might translate to gluten free?

    • We do some gluten-free cooking but not enough to have specific knowledge of the different flours.

      What we can say is that by using oil (rather than butter) and buttermilk, this recipe will be more moist than many cakes, regardless of the flour.

      BTW, King arthur Flour has good advice on these topics. maybe worth a look…

  4. I’m not an exceptional baker, so I enjoyed the tips you gave. I also feel weird about posting recipes that are barely adapted, but I think it’s great to sort of review other recipes out there. It lends some credence to what others are making!

    • Yeah, we do feel a bit funny posting something so close to the original, but this one is worth sharing. Her recipes consistently work, which is not always the case with some cookbooks and magazines.

      Usually we tweak recipes quite a bit, but we are always happy when they work the first time…;-)

  5. I do have a fear of prunes. But maybe it is time I overcame it, and this cake looks like the perfect way to do it. Besides, you had me at cake for breakfast. I saw this recipe on Ree’s site, but had never been brave enough to try it. You just gave me the push I needed. Thank you.

    • Totally worth it. Our boys loved it (we told our youngest it was Plum Cake). The prune and spice flavors work very, very well. Just mash up the prunes so you can’t recognize them!

  6. This is a cake for me …. no yeast! LOVE IT! We don’t do buttermilk in Sweden anymore .. wonder why??? . I’m sure I can live without the icing,always so terrible sweet – love naked cakes. And corn syrup … forget that – we don’t have clue what that is. But the cake talks to me.

  7. Prunes are one of the most versatile, luscious ingredients – I can’t understand the stigma!
    I like to simmer a few handfuls in some water with vanilla beans and a cinnamon quill until they’re soft and syrupy. Once refrigerated, they’re lovely with Greek yogurt and some chopped roasted almonds for a quick, light breakfast.

  8. This looks delicious and I agree with others saying prunes get the bad rap but actually can taste pretty good. I will share this recipe with my readers and cant wait to try it!

  9. Pingback: My Favorite Pioneer Woman Recipes | A Patchwork Life

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