Plum Jam & Plum Torte

Learn how to make two delicious treats using plums with local baker Heidi Leuszler of Berries & Flour. Heidi will teach you how to process plums for different purposes, then walk you through making a scrumptious plum torte and plum jam. 


Teacher Bio

I grew up the daughter of parents with wanderlust who believed that culinary experiences were among the best ways to know a place. We harvested wherever we lived; mangoes in Florida, morels and mustang grapes from the back acre in Missouri, wild strawberries and holly grapes in the Colorado mountains, and chokecherries in North Dakota. We traveled the world, dined in people's homes and ate from hedgerows & tidepools & local markets. As we moved through a delicious world, my mother taught me to preserve seasonal bounty, and be adventurous with flavor pairings from the myriad of places I have lived and visited.


My husband and I purchased a home on 7 acres of rich loam soil, and we promptly planted native prairie, trees, and wildflowers, an orchard, berries, asparagus, and a "Midwest Hedgerow". I now prepare seasonal dishes based on what grows in the backyard and on local farms. As a professor of ecology and botany at Parkland College and sometimes the University of Illinois, I have continued to learn more about native plants, ethnobotany and agriculture. All of these experiences have helped me to become an advocate of food security based on a local food supply.


Recently, I decided to start a small bakery that is the synergy of all of these passions for me; culinary skills, ecology of native landscapes, growing of plants, foraging for wild foods, and teaching people about the plentiful Midwest land. 




Plum Jam
Prepared plums
6 1/2 cups
1 cup
Lemon juice
2 tablespoons
Low sugar pectin
4 tablespoons
4 1/2 cups
Plum Torte
All-purpose flour
1 cup
Baking powder
1 teaspoon
Large pinch
Granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 - 2 tablespoons
Unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup
Large eggs
Italian purple plums, halved and pitted
Fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons
Ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon

Plum Jam

  1. To prepare the plums, wash plums and place them in a pot with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook until the plums burst. Let cool. Smash with a potato smasher until you see the plum seeds being released from the flesh. Strain the seeds out.
  2. Place plums, 1/2 cup water, and lemon juice in a large stock pot.
  3. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and pectin in a small bowl. Add to plum mixture and whisk until no clumps of sugar remain.
  4. Stirring constantly, bring to a rapid boil (that cannot be stirred down).
  5. Add the remaining 4 1/4 cups of sugar and return to a rolling boil. Continue boiling for a minute, while stirring. Remove from heat.
  6. Can or store in containers in the refrigerator.


Plum Torte

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a larger bowl, cream butter, and 1 cup sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon, then the remaining sugar.
  5. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center part of the cake comes out free of batter, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack.