Despite its anglo-saxon name, plum-cake is an extremely Italian dessert. In fact, the name doesn’t exist in British or American cuisine. This version of the recipe is taken from La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene written in 1891 by Florentine gourmand Pellegrino Artusi. Even though it contains candied peel and fruit, close examination of the recipe reveals that it is essentially what is known in Britain as a pound cake.
Artusi groups this recipe together with the similarly named plum-pudding, criticizing the name since it contains no plums. Of plum-cake he observes ‘È un dolce della stessa famiglia del precedente, mentitore anch’egli del nome suo.’ (‘This sweet belongs to the same family as the last one, and it’s a liar by name as well.’)