Italian Plum Upside-Down Cake

  • Serves: Makes one 8- or 9- x 2-inch round cake pan
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
  • Views: 16021
  • Comments: 2

I just came from the farmers' market and was excited to bake something delicious with my ripe deep purple Italian plums. Why Italian plums? Find out why we selected them for baking. They're mostly available from August to October in supermarkets in most parts of the country. If you cannot find Italian plums, use peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples, or any stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, etc) instead.


We use Italian Plums because of its small size and low water content, they maintain their shape for baking in dessert recipes. Plus, their flavor is slightly tart, almost lemony and fragrant that's totally different from the more very tart taste of standard red and black plums, making them ideal for pairing with sweet or savory recipes. 

Italian "Prune" Plums: Choose fairly firm to slightly soft fruit. The coloring will be deep-purple with a red blush and will darken to black as they ripen.

8 large Italian plums, halved, pitted, each half cut into thin wedges

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey

1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped, optional

Whipped cream, optional

Heat the oven and prepare the pan and ingredients:
1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8- or 9- x 2-inch round cake pan.  
SARAH SAYS: I used an 8 x 2-inch round cake pan for this tutorial.

2. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, add the vanilla extract to the milk, and stir. Set aside.

Prepare the butter mixture and plums:
1. Heat 6 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, sugar and honey in heavy medium skillet over low heat until butter melts and sugar and honey blend in, forming thick, smooth sauce. 

2. Pour the melted butter mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

3. Arrange the plum wedges in overlapping concentric circles atop the melted butter mixture, starting from the outside rim, working inward.
Set aside.

Make the cake:
1. Using electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat remaining 6 tablespoons butter until softened.

Add the sugar slowly at the side of the bowl and beat on medium until well combined.

2. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time about 20 seconds apart.

Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. With the mixer on LOW speed, add the flour mixture in 3 equal portions, alternating with the milk in 2 equal portions, beginning and ending with the flour. (If the milk is cold, the batter will curdle slightly. It's ok. It will come together when you add the flour.)
Add the flour and liquid ingredients in increments quickly; do NOT wait in between additions too long as you don't want to overmix the batter.

4. After completing the last addition of flour, stop the mixer, and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.
Then, let the mixer run for 30 seconds on LOW. STOP the mixer. Do NOT overmix.

6. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer. Add the crystallized ginger.
With a large rubber spatula, fold in the ginger and to incorporate any stray flour or milk left at the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then, STOP!

7. Slowly pour the batter evenly over the arranged plums in the baking pan, starting from the outer edge working inward.

Very gently smooth the batter's top without pressing down because the topping's juices from the bottom of the pan will start to seep up the edges of the batter.

8. Place the pan on a foil lined baking sheet; this is very important because the cake's juices WILL drip.

9. Bake the cake until golden and tester inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs, but not batter, about 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire cake rack; cool in its pan 30 minutes.

Unmold the cake:
1. Using a table knife, cut around pan sides to loosen the cake.

2. Invert platter atop cake pan.

3. Invert cake and platter; place platter on work surface.
SARAH SAYS: You can see the bottom of my pan - the cake did drip in the oven! Thank goodness I placed it on a foil-lined pan during baking!

4. Let stand 5 minutes. (This is the fun part!) Gently lift off pan and view your lovely cake.

Serve cake warm as is or with whipped cream.

Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a few days. If the temperature is humid, refrigerate instead. Freeze cake for a month or more.

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