Top | The Heart of the Plate

Fruit-Studded Madeleine Cake

(recipe, Mollie Katzen)

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This highly buttery vanilla cake is the sunny circle on which you get to design a dreamy skyscape of berry stars and plum-slice half-moons. Fruit baked onto a cake: What could be better? Using a tart pan with a removable rim will add to its quiet splendor (and birthday-celebration worthiness). Unwrap the butter ahead of time and place it in the mixing bowl to soften. In the heart of the summer season, consider using a combination of variously colored plums: red, deep purple, yellow. Slice them lengthwise and place them all over the top in a random pattern of scattered half-moons. You can use fresh berries or frozen unsweetened ones, which can go directly onto the cake still frozen. If you have more fruit than will fit, make it into a fresh compote to serve on top or on the side.


  1. Nonstick cooking spray
  2. 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  7. ½ tsp. salt
  8. ½ tsp. baking powder
  9. ¾ cup milk (low-fat is OK)
  10. 4 to 5 firm, ripe plums, pitted and sliced
  11. 1 cup (or more) raspberries or blueberries, fresh or frozen


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Lightly spray with nonstick spray the bottom of a 10- or 11-inch tart pan with a removable rim.
  2. Beat the butter for about 3 minutes in a medium-large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat for 2 to 3 minutes longer, until completely incorporated and the mixture is very light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. In a second bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 2 installments, alternating with the milk. After each addition, mix from the bottom of the bowl with a spoon or a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix.
  5. Transfer the batter to the pan, spreading it evenly. Arrange the fruit on top of the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake is golden on the edges, pulling away from the sides of the pan, and springy to the touch. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.


Optional enhancements: Mango slices (fresh or frozen) or fresh peach or nectarine slices can substitute for some of the plums.