During Italian plum season, I usually just buy plums whenever I see them at the farmers market and figure out what I'm going to bake with them only after I get home. But after making Joanne Chang's Plum-Frangipane Tart, I immediately made a plan to bake her "Plum Upside-Down Cake," which is in the same cookbook Pastry Love.
The first step is to make a caramel by cooking sugar and water until it's dark amber, and add butter. I poured the caramel into a 9-inch cake pan that I had coated with nonstick spray and lined with parchment, and then I arranged thinly-sliced plums on top. The cake batter is made with the reverse-creaming method. You put all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) into a mixing bowl; add softened butter and beat until the mixture forms crumbs; add eggs and beat until the mixture is light; and incorporate crème fraîche, milk, and vanilla. The batter was well aerated and I poured it on top of the plums in the cake pan.
After baking, I let the cake cool for a few hours before unmolding it. I didn't have any loose caramel that came out of the pan; it appeared to have all been absorbed by the fruit and cake. I made two cakes at the same time and between them, only one small plum slice was out of place after I turned the cakes out of the pans. I was pleased with how well the plums maintained their neat arrangement on top of the cakes.
Recipe: "Plum Upside-Down Cake" from Pastry Love by Joanne Chang. The recipe here from Food & Wine is nearly identical.
- "Small Fruits Deliver Big Flavor: Plum and Blueberry Upside-Down Torte," July 10, 2012.
- "How Can Upside Down Be So Right?: Plum Upside-Down Cake," October 3, 2011.