Recipe: Reine-Claude Coffee Cake

Reine Claude

What are Reine-Claudes? Maybe you know them as Greengages? Now after two years of living in French-speaking Switzerland, I finally discovered these little green plums with a sweet fresh flavor. Typically grown in southern France, we see Reine-Claudes at our farmers’ market and all the local grocery stores. Their size can vary, but most often they’re smaller than purple plums (pruneaux) and slightly larger than the yellow-hued Mirabelles.

Reine Claudes market

Reine Claude
Named after a 16th century French queen, these special Reine-Claudes have a distinct flavor and are really best eaten raw. Even so, I’m not a huge fan of plums—although I’m slowly acquiring a taste for them. Generally, I prefer them baked in a cake or tart.

Over the last few weeks of summer vacation (my son’s school year started on Monday already!?), I’ve been perfecting my recipe for a cake with Reine-Claudes. When I served my second test-cake to my father-in-law last week, he suggested calling it a coffee cake, given it’s overall appearance and texture. I agreed with him, and since I’m usually downing a large cup of coffee (or several) when eating cake, it seemed like a good name for my new recipe. I had lots of coffee cake growing up in Minnesota, and this one reminds me of one my mother used to make with a cinnamon-streusel topping—except it’s made without dairy and contains French plums befitting a queen!

Reine-Claude Coffee Cake

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Purple Plum Torte, a recipe adapted from Marian Burros’ Famous Purple Plum Torte from Elegant but Easy and The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

A 9-inch round cake tin or springform pan
Parchment paper and/or dairy-free margarine for greasing the pan

Dry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon

About 8 Reine-Claudes (Greengages), pitted and halved
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, vanilla sugar and margarine. Add one egg at a time, and combine until the mixture is smooth. Then stir in the lemon zest.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring together gently until combined, but do not overbeat. Put the cake batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly.

4. Place the Reine-Claudes face down and evenly dispersed on top of the cake batter. Then, sprinkle the lemon juice over the plums and the cake batter.

Reine Claude Cake

5. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the top of the cake. Finally, sprinkle on the sliced almonds.

Reine Claude Cake

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Best served warm, but also very good the next day!

Reine Claude Cake

Reine-Claude Coffee Cake Piece 2702x2794

We’ve had a cool and rainy Swiss summer, so I’m hoping for a warm autumn season. Hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the final weeks of summer.


8 thoughts on “Recipe: Reine-Claude Coffee Cake

    • Heddi says:

      Thanks! Very kind of you to visit my blog. If you can’t find Reine-Claude in the NW, another plum variety would certainly work too. 🙂 Best wishes, Heddi

  1. SuMey says:

    It looks really yummy. I just tumbled down on your blog, happy to read it. My husband is also tolerance to gluten. I’ve been baking cake without gluten for a big while now… lovely to see your blog.

    • Heddi says:

      Hello SuMey! Thanks for visiting my blog. Looks like you’re in Suisse romande too? Look forward to following your adventures. I know little about baking gluten-free cakes, but now I know who to contact in Switzerland if I need some advice! 😉 Many thanks, Heddi

  2. Caroline says:

    Your photos are becoming more and more amazing. Have you considered it’s time to write a cookbook? We have many plums in our yard here in Reno, NV, I am thinking your recipe might work? My daughter has out grown her almond allergy!

    • Heddi says:

      Hi Caroline! You are too kind. I’m such an amateur when it comes to photography. Should really take more time to improve, but need to study French instead! 😉 If you try the recipe, please let me know how it turns out. Such great news about your daughter!! Best wishes, Heddi P.S. Loved reading about your trip to MN!

      • Caroline says:

        You are a brilliant photographer–you have talent. But…I do see the need for French when living in a French speaking country! MN was amazing. I was so happy to spread the good word about life threatening allergies AND eat food on a stick!

      • Heddi says:

        I hope you got to try some cheese curds and mini doughnuts too! 🙂 I’m always impressed and inspired by your good work. Wish I could be meeting up with you later this month in Las Vegas!

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