Wistful Wednesday #5: Mrs. Jones’s Prune Cake

Something new for ’22.

No not poetry. Recipes that conjure up wistful memories. Sometimes from the distant past and sometimes more recent.

Mrs. Jones’s Prune Cake

Oh, Mrs. Jones. This recipe brings back so many memories.

Mrs. Jones lived across the road where I grew up. Her daughters, Kimberly and Su,e went to school with me. Sue wasn’t her real daughter, but Mrs. Jones was like a mother to her. I think Sue was a niece, but that part is unimportant to the memory.

Mom and Mrs. Jones visited back and forth for “coffee.” Mrs. Jones was from the south, She had lots of colloquial sayings that often surprised Mom. Sometimes these led to misunderstandings. One went something like this:

Mrs. Jones smiled a greeting: “You’re just like a heifer, straying from her pasture.”

Mom: “More like a full-grown cow!”

Mom thought Mrs.Jones was talking about her very pregnant belly, whereas Mrs. Jones was actually complimenting Mom’s escape from her other eight children for a much-needed break. As Mom told it, Mrs. Jones became appalled that Mom thought she was commenting on her size, not her independence.

Mrs. Jones loved to share recipes. Her prune cake recipes remain one of my favorites.

Everyone loves prune cake once they taste it.

It’s not very pretty. Especially if you don’t have a pretty bundt pan. Mom used an angel-food cake pan, so the cake came out with unadorned perpendicular sides and a flat top. Plus, sometimes the glaze got away from her and made a bit of a sticky mess. And prunes? That’s kinda scary.

Once Mom took a prune cake to a cakewalk fund-raiser and the PTA-lady in charge hid it under the table. We all laughed. The joke was on PTA-lady. We went home with a delectable prune cake to share.

I went away to college, got married, and added prune cake to my culinary repertoire. It might be at least partially credited for Wrestler #1 explaining to one of his friends:

“Mom’s cooking doesn’t look pretty but it tastes great!”

I’ve worked hard to make things more esthetically pleasing. Wrestler #1 grew suspicious of my cake decorating skills. He worried. If it looked good, maybe the taste would be sub-par. To tell the truth, I’m not sure how I feel about the reputation he hung on me.

I urge you, “Try it. You’ll like it.” Really.

What you’ll need:


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup prune (cooked and cut small)
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans (chopped)


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

How to prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Mix all Cake ingredients together and bake in a bunt pan for 1 hour.
  • Put Icing ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  • Remove Cake from pan.
  • Slowly pour hot Icing over warm Cake.

How to Enjoy:

Prune cake is good warm or cold. It keeps really well, too because it is incredibly moist. Consider serving it to guests blindfolded. By the way, as far as I know, prune cake does not have the celebrated side-effects of prunes or prune juice. Always enjoy with a sense of humor.

(Caveat, it’s entirely possible that the “heifer” comment was made by another neighbor that lived in the same house as Mrs. Jones. Sometimes my memories blur together. At any rate, it was a comment made with love, not vitriol, and it gave us all a funny memory to cherish.)

Now I feel even more wistful

Do you have recipes that bring up memories? I’d love to hear about them. Please leave a link to your blog/instagram/facebook post.
Hmmm.. now my recipe has some great memories attached to it. I can feel the memories piling up.

Before I meander too far into my wistful woods, please hop over and check out Southern Lady Cooks for another Prune Cake Recipe. Judy’s recipe is also connected to memories. And to be honest, her prune cake doesn’t look all that pretty either.