Oven-Roasted Plums

I made a statement recently on social media that plums were my favorite fruit. I guess I said the same thing about cherries, at some point, which I was reminded of. But I’ll confess that I may have also said the same thing about nectarines, figs, mangoes, and litchis at some point in my life. However plums really are my favorite fruit, and I’m happy that they stick around from summer all the way through the beginning of fall.

There are a lot of plums out there. In Northern California we had big purple Santa Rosa plums, as well as an array of others with names like Elephant Heart and Angelino, as well as pluots, a hybrid of apricots and plums. While they don’t show up in Paris, there are green Reine Claudes (which are close to being at the top of my list for favorite varieties of plums), tiny golden Mirabelles, and sturdy Quetsches, which hold their shape relatively well during baking. And while they’re not as tart as U.S. varieties (most of the tartness of plums is in their skins), they are reliably good, and flavorful, when baked or oven-roasted, as I often prepare them.

While I was grabbing what likely are the last nectarines of the season at the market the other day, there were plenty of quetsches in the next bin. They go by other names elsewhere, such as prune plums, and are closely related to Damson plums. You don’t have to get too hung up on the name; just look for violet, ovoid plums, and those should work just fine.

Plums have a lovely tendency, when cooked, to create their own beautifully-colored, naturally-thickened sauce, which is why I adore using plums to make jam. Here, a few spoonfuls of honey coax additional juices from the plums and mingle with them as the juices thicken after baking, and sitting for a bit.

For a variety of reasons, I have a lot of vanilla. And while prices have spiked in recently years, I feel well-invested in my baking future (and present) and added some vanilla bean powder, which is basically dried and pulverized beans. I like the little specks that show up here and there, but also the earthy vanilla flavor of the beans (versus extract) works really well with plums. But if spices are your thing, as they sometimes are mine, a cinnamon stick or other spices, can certainly fill in for the vanilla.

Oven-Roasted Plums
Print Recipe
6 servings
Quetsches hold their shape quite well during baking whereas other plums (if you want to use them) can cook very fast. So if you swap out another plum I recommend checking them after 15 minutes, or even sooner, to make sure they don't get overcooked. You want to take the plums out of the oven when they are soft and cooked through, but not mush. You can use rosé or vermouth in place of the wine. If you don't drink wine, water, apple, or orange juice would work. In place of the honey, you could use white or brown sugar. I keep them simple but you could spice them up using cinnamon and perhaps some allspice berries or cloves. (You may want to pluck those out before serving, unless you use powdered, so just a head's up.) If you want to include some raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, add them close to the end of baking. I love these spooned over plain yogurt or ice cream, although they could also be served with a savory dish alongside grilled meat or chicken. Bonus: These freeze well and are a savior in the middle of winter when you're craving a taste of summer.
1 1/2 pounds (680g) prune plums (quetsches), halved and pitted
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or powder, or a vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 cinnamon stick
2 thin slices lemon or orange
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC.)
2. Put the plums in a baking dish that will fit them all in an even layer. Drizzle the honey over the plums and add the vanilla (or cinnamon stick), citrus slices, and wine. Gently mix everything together then spread the plums back out so they are in an even layer.
3. Cover the baking dish snugly with foil and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, removing them from the oven midway during roasting to gently stir them. Depending on the plums, they may cook more quickly than noted here, so check them a few times to make sure they don't get overcooked. You want them soft and cooked through, but not cooked to mush.

Storage: The Oven-Roasted Plums will keep in the refrigerator up to one week.

Related Recipes

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Poached Pears

White Chocolate-Fresh Ginger Ice Cream with Baked Nectarines and Cherries


Oven-Roasted Plums

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45 comments

  • Gavrielle
    September 8, 2020 9:03am

    Yum! I have enough jam from my damson tree to last me for a while, so when the season rolls around here in NZ this will be a great option to enjoy my damsons another way. Reply

  • Betsy
    September 8, 2020 9:25am

    David –

    Thanks for the inspiration! I made these plums a few days ago, and the recipe is now going into the regular rotation chez moi. I went with cinnamon, lemon and Dolin blanc, and they were fabulous, both on ice cream and on yogurt.

    I’m hoping to make some plum preserves this week, but I notice your recipe calls for strawberries, which I don’t have on hand. Do you have a recipe for just plums? I’ve got about 2 pounds of fruit.

    Thanks so much for keeping so many of us fed, lubricated and happy these days. I love Drinking French and all your IG Lives! Reply

    • September 8, 2020 9:46am
      David Lebovitz

      That Dolin blanc is very nice, with the soft notes of elderflowers and vanilla. Good way to use it! My Plum Jam recipes hews closely to my Apricot Jam recipe so you could use that one.

      Glad you’re enjoying Drinking French : ) Reply

    • Penny
      September 8, 2020 5:44pm

      Betsy, there are no strawberries in the actual recipe, just the picture Reply

      • September 8, 2020 9:40pm
        David Lebovitz

        hi Penny; She’s referring to the Plum-Strawberry Jam recipe on the site – but you’re right the strawberries here are just served on the side. (They were great with the plums and yogurt!) Reply

  • Susan Luraschi
    September 8, 2020 10:01am

    I am also in love with the small plums that are used to make the dried prunes, usually called prunes d’Agen (Prunus Domesticus), as that is the area where most of them are grown and dried. The season is very short and if the green grocer is doing his job, they are marked prunes d’ente, which I always heard as Danté’s prunes until I saw it in writing. I was on a bike trip in that area mid August and we feasted on these little beauties as a lot of them grow in the wild. Just read that the light dusting on the prunes is a good sign of freshness. If too “clean” that means they have been around a bit.
    Susan Reply

  • Julie Hock
    September 8, 2020 10:34am

    Interesting post as when I lived in Germany there is a famous cake called Zwetschen Kuchen. A plum cake which is really good. They use the plums you called Questsches = Zwetschen. Perhaps you could add this cake to your repertoire. In Australia these plums are rarely seen in the markets, but good to know that they still exist. Reply

    • September 8, 2020 10:40am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve made Pflaumenstreuselkuchen, which is a wonderful German cake with a streusel topping, but haven’t made the one you’re talking about. I’ve read that one uses a different type of plum, Zwetschgen vs. Pflaumen, according to Luisa Weiss, but yes- German baking uses these types of plums very well! Reply

  • Katie
    September 8, 2020 10:57am

    thanks David, will try – I have plums roasted with allspice and butter on my porridge in winter :) Reply

  • September 8, 2020 11:20am

    HI, David. Some years ago I had some plums to use up and decided to make a clafoutis. It was bland so next try I experimented with a tablespoon of lavender. It was heavenly. The caveat is only 1 tablespoon as any more makes it better. I love culinary lavender and I bet it would be a nice “spice” option here. Reply

  • September 8, 2020 11:31am

    Here in Belgium they are called Président plums. Together with Reine Claude, they are my favourite kind. <3 Reply

  • Lily
    September 8, 2020 12:29pm

    Thanks so much for posting this as I bought too many plums recently and wondering what to do with them. Would vanilla extract work in place of the powder? Reply

    • September 8, 2020 2:52pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, but it’s a different flavor – however extract will work fine. I’d use a teaspoon or so. Reply

  • lamassu
    September 8, 2020 12:41pm

    our new plum tree,
    Wangenheims Frühzwetschge, very flavorful here in the mountains arrived last week
    – the old one had to be removed-
    + now there is the big decision where to plant it.
    So, for the time being I just have to buy the local quetsches/Zwetschgen
    for trying the recipe Reply

  • Harold
    September 8, 2020 12:57pm

    Thanks David. Great looking pictures!
    Love the fruit.

    We now more than ever live in a world where anyone can be on the attack mode! Either for envy ,or positioning ones self above others!

    Dont know to many times where a persons favorite is for ever, if so nothing new will be tried or discovered with enthusiasm !

    I have always enjoyed your perspective . Reply

  • Stefanie from Germany
    September 8, 2020 1:37pm

    Quetsche/Zwetschgen and ginger works really good as well – I make that jam every autumn. And if you want to make Zwetschgenkuchen just combine your favourite yeast cake bottom and put the plums on top, cut side upwards. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or cover with Streusel. Bake and enjoy slightly warm with vanilla whipped cream. Reply

  • Mado Most
    September 8, 2020 1:55pm

    Hi David. I too love plumbs and will make these roasted ones.

    Could I process in a water bath to can to preserve them this way?

    Thanks! Reply

    • September 8, 2020 2:51pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know about these as I haven’t ever processed them but there are instructions on this website for canning plums which perhaps will give you some guidance. Reply

  • Cyndy
    September 8, 2020 2:41pm

    At a certain time of year in SW France, I vary my morning hike to pass by a tree that drops these lovely little plums onto the path. I never knew what they were called, but now I do, thanks to your picture.

    I’ve made a tart with the ones we didn’t eat. Hopefully the EU’s borders will open back up by next fall, and I can try roasting them. They are delicious.

    Thanks for giving us all a diversion during this pandemic. I’ve loved all the videos, and of course, your blog. Reply

  • Nancy Cohn
    September 8, 2020 3:52pm

    I made your delicious molleux from last month with these plums on Saturday. That is now a memory, today is the farmer’s market, and this will definitely be tonight’s activity. These plums are also very good in a spicy jam with star anise and ginger. I’m with you David, favorite fruits, although love my children equally as they say! Thanks for all the inspiration. Reply

    • Marsha
      September 9, 2020 9:54am

      Hi David. I know this is a bit off-topic here, but I also made the molleux last week with these plums. I took great care to arrange them in such a lovely concentric circle pattern, only to find all the plums on the bottom of the cake when it came out of the oven. My straight from the chicken eggs were quite large and I thought that maybe the dough was too soft…? Is this what happened when you used 3 eggs in your molleux? Naturally, the cake tasted great anyway! Reply

      • September 9, 2020 2:08pm
        David Lebovitz

        Mine didn’t sink but stayed on top but as you can see in the photo in the post, when I used apricots they sunk into the center. It didn’t bother me as they both tasted great! : ) Reply

  • Linda U.
    September 8, 2020 4:20pm

    Gorgeous photo of the plums! Reply

  • September 8, 2020 4:39pm

    This is a lovely recipe – thanks so much for sharing it. A favorite yearly interlude of mine is the fleeting moment in autumn in the Northeastern United States when crisp, new-crop apples are in at the farmer’s market alongside the little prune-plums. Then I make big panfuls of oven-roasted apple chunks and little quartered plums, with a varying tableau of spices and flavorings. They roast until they collapse together into a rustic sauce (still with the skins on). The plums give a wonderful rosy magenta cast to the whole bowlful. It’s my latest form of applesauce, good with any meal or at any time of day. But it’s gorgeous served at this time of year with slow braised brisket and gravy, kasha varnishkes, roasted root veg “tzimmes” and other Rosh Hashanah delights — more desserts featuring plums, apples and honey, of course. I got the base idea from my mother, who in the fall often tossed some prune-plums into her pressure-cooker applesauce. Despite growing up with a working mother, I was one of those lucky children who didn’t realize that applesauce (that horrifying mealy yellow stuff in the US) came in jars. Reply

  • Linda I
    September 8, 2020 4:58pm

    Perfect timing! I picked about 20 lbs of these lovely plums from a friend’s trees yesterday and was thinking about roasting then freezing them. Yum! Reply

  • Terry S.
    September 8, 2020 5:20pm

    This looks delicious! I used to be able to get these and mirabelles at my local Farmers Market. Alas, the Farmer leased out the portion of his farm with the plum trees. He has replanted on his remaining acres but it will be a few years before we have some. It was the only place I know of here in Southern California that grew these plums. I am envious of your bounty! Reply

  • Heather Smoke
    September 8, 2020 6:14pm

    I didn’t even know vanilla powder was a thing! Whenever I use a vanilla bean, I’ve been drying the pod and pulverizing it in my spice grinder to use up. I call it “crushed vanilla bean”, and it’s so good in baked goods. Reply

  • KB
    September 8, 2020 6:50pm

    Ahhh perfect timing! I was out in a orchard picking these beautiful purple jewels when this recipe showed up in my inbox. Thank you for always sharing these delicious recipes! (I made your fresh mint ice cream this past weekend…) Reply

  • Virginia
    September 8, 2020 7:13pm

    I am sure these will be wonderful as I have made other roasted fruit, and it always seem to turn out well. If I overbake I just call it fruit sauce. This is the sort of thing we like to eat on top of our chia pudding. Reply

  • Christina
    September 9, 2020 3:14am

    Bonjour! I made this from the yield of my Italian plum tree and served it with a pork roast. I have a 20 year old Mirabelle tree which I treasure and this year planted a Reine Claude – My three favourites. I made a great Mirabelle chutney this year as I had plenty of last year’s jam. Thank you for your wonderful writing and inspiration. Reply

  • C
    September 9, 2020 5:44pm

    I had filled the survey out and hope it didn’t come through as “stick to baking!” I always feel like I’m reading about things you love, and that’s really the draw of it! Like roasted fruit, I never really liked but these look so damn good so I may go to the market just for this. Reply

  • Winnie
    September 9, 2020 8:13pm

    Just beautiful. I love plums with star anise and also loved them cooked with cardamom.
    Thanks for a wonderful inspiration! Reply

  • Alison V
    September 9, 2020 9:55pm

    I used Lillet Blanc in place of the wine. The citrus flavors work well, but if I did this again, I would probably use 2 tablespoons Lillet and 2 tablespoons water or juice instead, to let the flavor of the plum come forward a little more. Very much looking forward to having this with the creme fraiche ice cream from The Perfect Scoop! Reply

  • Sandra Baumgartner
    September 10, 2020 5:04pm

    Egypt grows lots of figs. I used to find a variety of small figs being sold in the city of Aswan in southern Egypt in late summer. They were amazing. Reply

  • Bebe
    September 11, 2020 1:02am

    vanilla powder!?! i have found everything from ground vanilla beans to vanilla sugar. i am anxious to get this just so. help. s’il vous plait & merci beaucoup Reply

    • September 11, 2020 2:41pm
      David Lebovitz

      Vanilla powder is the same as ground vanilla beans, which is sometimes also called vanilla bean powder. (Ground vanilla seeds are just the seeds, but those are harder to find and more expensive.) Reply

  • Jennifer Acchiardo
    September 11, 2020 6:58pm

    Do you think Muscatine would work here? Reply

    • Jennifer Acchiardo
      September 11, 2020 10:41pm

      Muscadine Grapes Reply

      • September 12, 2020 9:42am
        David Lebovitz

        Any white wine (or rosé, in fact) would work! Reply

        • Jennifer Acchiardo
          September 12, 2020 8:56pm

          My apologies! I was wondering if I could roast the grapes in place of the plums. The grape skins are a smidge thicker than the plums but maybe roast them a little longer? Thank you for responding. Reply

  • Shana
    September 11, 2020 8:13pm

    The produce item of this year’s MasterChef Australia was the Davidson plum.

    I would love to try this but it seems it isn’t available in the Western/Northern hemisphere. From their descriptions it is a very sour plum.

    Have you ever sampled it? Reply

  • Rebecca
    September 16, 2020 5:03pm

    I’ll admit I’m not much of a “measuring” kind of cook, I just halved the plums, drizzled probably more than the recommended amount of honey, vanilla and wine, along with the other ingredients plus some star anise I had and they still came out great! Reply

  • Jennifer
    September 18, 2020 12:59pm

    I’m afraid I overdid the roasting and ended up with pretty soupy plums. But….I ended up tossing the soupy plums along with a tablespoon of vanilla-infused vodka (192 proof – yes, I live in Poland) into my ice-cream maker. This was, hands down, the best tasting, fluffiest (?!?!), most gorgeous sorbet I have ever had. Reply

    • September 18, 2020 1:44pm
      David Lebovitz

      Plums can go from perfect to too-cooked somewhat quickly, but the puree (or in your case “soupy” plums) makes a great base for ice cream or sorbet. And there’s also Jeff Morgenthaler’s Plum Sour cocktail, which uses a teaspoon of plum jam – and those soupy plums would work well if you fancy a cocktail! : ) Reply

  • Joan
    September 24, 2020 8:20pm

    This year I was inspired by the folks at World Spice Merchants
    https://www.worldspice.com/

    to stew fruits
    (black plums, blueberries)
    with maple syrup and toasted caraway seeds.

    Mind blowing & awesome, especially served with thick yogurt and a drizzle of more maple syrup.

    It’s turned into one of my go to COVID recipes.

    https://www.silkroaddiary.com/caraway-mini-pancakes/ Reply

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