Plum Upside Down Cake

        From the blog For Love of the Table

4 1/2 T. (64 g.) unsalted butter

3/4 c. (150 g.) packed brown sugar

4 plums (about 1 lb.), halved and pitted


1 1/2 c. sifted cake flour (150 g.)

3/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

9 T. (125 g.) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c. (150 g.) sugar

1 egg plus 1 yolk (70 g.), at room temperature

1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. (120 g.) sour cream


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Butter the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch high sides.


Place the plum halves cut surfaces down on a cutting board.  Slice the halves thinly (about 3/16-inch) and evenly lengthwise.  Discard the “end” pieces of each half.  (You should be able to get about 10 slices out of each half, excluding the little end bits.)


Melt the butter and brown sugar in a sauté pan/iron skillet set over medium-low heat.  When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together in a thick, smooth sauce.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.  Tilt the pan and spread as necessary so that the bottom of the pan is covered with the sugar mixture.  Arrange the plums in overlapping concentric circles on top of the butter/sugar mixture (see note).  Set aside. 


Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside. 


Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy—this will take 3 to 5 minutes at medium-high speed using the paddle attachment.  Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.  Whisk together the egg, yolk and vanilla.  Add this mixture in two or three additions, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  When all of the egg has been added, beat briefly to restore the creamed mixture to fluffiness.  Fold in the dry ingredients in 2 additions alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.


Spread the batter evenly over the plums in the prepared pan. Bake in a 350° oven until the cake is springy to the touch, has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean—about 40 to 50 minutes.  Let the cake rest for 25 to 30 minutes in the pan.  Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan.  Place a cake plate upside down on top of the skillet and holding the cake plate firmly to the skillet, quickly flip the cake over.  Leave the pan over the cake for a minute or two and then carefully lift up and away.  Allow the cake to cool for a couple of hours before serving.  Use a thin sharp knife, with a gentle back and forth sawing motion to cut through the plums and down into the cake. 


Serve the cake warm with whipped cream or ice cream.  Serves 10.


Note:  When building the fruit portion of an upside down cake you have to remember that you are working in reverse.  To get the look you want, you may need to shingle a few slices of the fruit on your cutting board and then use a wide spatula to flip it over so you can see how it will look on the finished cake.  For plums my experience is that the top looks best if the outer curve, or the skin side, of the plum (not the pit side) is what is visible.  So, when laying in the plums, lay down the first slice and then lay the next slice with the “pit side” of the plum shingled over the “skin side” of the first one…and then repeat this pattern for each successive slice, creating a spiral effect with the skins on the side you can’t see now…but which will be visible when the cake is turned out.