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The plum cake of the Bolognese Apennines is part of the culinary tradition of my land and is a dessert with an old fashioned flavor.

Plum cake of the Bolognese Apennines recipe

On the border

I was born on the border between Emilia and Romagna.
Precisely in Imola, Romagna cuisine and culture in Emilia territory. Father’s family, which came on the border between Romagna and Tuscany, adds other colors, flavors, and accents to a varied picture.

What about me? To which territory do I belong?
To Imola and Romagna by birth, roots, family, and where I worked for a long time, or to Bologna and then to Emilia for university studies, again work, home, and habits.

A suspended life, often accompanied by the impression of belonging to every place and then nowhere.

You might object that having chosen the name Tortellini for the blog, a pasta typical of Bologna and Emilia, I have already answered my question.

I have not. At home, tortellini were the minestra of Christmas lunch and, consequently, the dish with the highest level of emotion. The most iconic one, but not the most representative. But the other days, I ate passatelli, cappelletti, and strozzapreti (typical pastas of Romagna).

The flavors of my region

I have to confess.
When I was young, I was ashamed that I was born in the province and felt I was from Emilia, not Romagna.
As soon as I could, I ran away.

Once I arrived in Bologna among work, new friends, and classes at the University, I breathed. I finally was where I thought I wanted to be.

A few decades later, I recovered the identity I had mortified and rejected.
Today I am proud to be born in a little village on the border of two different areas.
It gave me a naiveté and a hunger for life that, recently, I realized how valuable they were and still are.

Today I cook traditional recipes from Romagna and Emilia, feeling they belong to me.
And that, at the same way, the flavors I have encountered along life’s journey belong to me.

Today I cook to remind myself who I am and where I come from.
And since I have already walked for a long time, my table is full of flavors.
But I do not forget the struggle to reach this new awareness.

Plum cake of Bologna recipe

The plum cake of the Bolognese Apennines

It is an early November morning and foggy.
I’m at Pietracolora, a village of about two hundred souls in the Bolognese Apennines.
In the little kitchen, the fireplace flame crackles.
On the table, to welcome us, coffee pot and cake.

The outer shell of the cake is a short bread covered with powdered sugar.

My hostess cuts some slices of cake. In the air, there is the scent of wood, and that coffee, when something new creeps into the room.
It is chocolate, but suddenly another fresher and fruitier one arrives.

In front of me, on an old, chipped dessert plate, is a slice of cake that I have never seen or tasted: the Apennine plum cake.

It is a traditional Bolognese peasant dessert, so there is no shortage of amaretti biscuits, which in the Bologna area, are homely. Crumbled macaroons, finely chopped almonds, and cocoa are the filling that covers the plums. Tasting my slice, I understand why you call it plum cake and not cocoa and amaretti dessert, although their distinct flavors.

To make, to taste, to share. Even give it as a gift.

Buona cucina, Monica

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Plum cake of the Bolognese Apennines recipe

Plum cake of the Bolognese Apennines

Course Cupboard cakes
Cuisine Italiana
Servings 6 servings


  • round mold, 22 cm diameter



  • 350 g of all purpose flour
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 150 g of butter (from the refrigerator)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 medium eggs


  • 200 g amaretti cookies
  • 80 g peeled almonds
  • 30 g bitter cocoa
  • a pinch of salt
  • 500 g of plums
  • 20 g brown sugar



  • In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and stir.
  • Add also chopped butter, vanilla, and eggs.
  • Knead until the shortcrust pastry is smooth and homogeneous.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.


  • Finely chop amaretti and almonds.
  • Mix amaretti cookies, almonds, cocoa, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Wash, cut the plums in half, remove the stone, and set aside with the 20 g of sugar but without mixing the two ingredients.


  • Roll out 2/3 of the shortbread between two sheets of baking paper and, in the meanwhile, place in the refrigerator the shortcrust dough leftover.
    The base should hold a considerable weight; do not roll out the bottom too thin but to a height of 4-5 mm.
  • Arrange the shortcrust pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, allowing the excess dough to fall over the edges.
  • With the tines of a fork, prick the bottom of the base.
  • Place the plums on the bottom of the cake without leaving any gaps, sprinkle with brown sugar, and then cover with the filling.
  • Roll out the remaining pastry dough, arrange it on the surface, and seal the edges by removing the excess with a knife.
  • Make some incisions with a knife on the surface (as in the pic below the recipe).
  • Let rest in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 180C degrees (356F) for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, let cool, and dust with powdered sugar.


Plum cake of Bologna

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