Plum Upside Down Cake

My father should have a t-shirt that reads “I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like” or in this case, “Got Plums? Will Bake”. His baking endeavors might not always look their bakery best (please don’t ever ask him to frost a cake and sometimes his pies are downright scary-looking) but more often than not the results taste fabulous. This plum upside-down cake is actually quite pretty and is based on a recipe he found in an old issue of Fine Cooking magazine. The taste idea is that of slices of tart plum balanced by a sweet cake base. He used red Santa Rosa plums that are just now coming ripe. My mother thought the cake was just a bit too tart for her, but dad and I love it just the way it is.

Now that I think about it, the t-shirt should simply say “Real Men Bake”. Because if you could just see my 6’2″, 200 lb, works out 3 times a week at the gym, mows the lawn, splits the wood, 78-year-old father in his striped apron, gently arranging plum slices on top of melted butter and sugar in ramekins, that would be the T that fit the best.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 stick butter (10 Tbsp or 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp), softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 plums, pitted and sliced
  • 5 Tbsp buttermilk OR 4 Tbsp milk plus 2 teaspoons milk and 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Four 10 or 8 ounce ramekins

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the insides of the ramekins. Melt 3/4 stick (6 Tbsp) of the butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour into the bottoms of the buttered ramekins, dividing the sugar butter sauce evenly among them. Arrange a layer of plum slices at the bottom of each ramekin.

2 If you are not using buttermilk, combine milk and lemon juice in a small bowl (the mixture will curdle), set aside. In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

3 Use an electric mixer to beat together the remaining 1/2 stick (1/4 cup or 4 Tbsp) butter with the granulated sugar and orange zest. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix to combine. Alternately add the dry flour mixture and the buttermilk (or lemon soured milk) mixture to the batter.

4 Divide the batter among the ramekins. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and put in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until cakes are firm to the touch, and a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center does not come out with raw batter on it. (Might be wet from plum juice.) Turn the baking sheet around half-way through the baking to ensure an even baking for all the cakes.

5 Remove from oven and let cool on a rack until no longer hot to the touch. Run a paring knife around the edges of the ramekins. Invert onto a plate and gently lift off of the plate.

Serve alone or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Main Ingredients

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