Stone fruit upside-down cakes and I don't always get along.
There was one really spectacular one I made three summers ago and since then, I haven't made one as tasty as that one except for this winter Mandarinquat Upside-Down Cake. Or perhaps I should say, I've been afraid to make one again in fear of it being exceptionally soggy or having a really gnarly top. Trying to get an upside-down cake to both look beautiful and to be baked just right is a challenge that is quite difficult to achieve.
Although I prefer fresh cherries over cooked cherries, I prefer cooked plums over fresh plums. Sometimes the skin on plums can be too sour or bitter and I much prefer the sweetness and texture of peaches, nectarines or apricots. So plums get deemed as fruit that I will bake with or use as smoothie options.
These plums are from my Dad's tree and are redder this year than in previous years which produced this pretty magenta-colored cake. When arranging the fruit in an upside down cake, you never really know how the end result will look like. After my upside-down cake mishaps, I have learned to not get my hopes up that the pre-baked design remains after it has baked. The fruit tends to shift during baking and it's not something that you can easily control.
I always forget that you want the cake base of an upside-down cake to be on the denser side as that is what keeps it from getting soggy. If it's too wet or with too loose of a crumb, it will soak up all of that sauce and you will immediately end up with something that is more like a bread pudding. Don't worry if there is extra caramel sauce that comes out when you flip the cake. That sauce will soak back into the cake making it extra caramel-y.
Pro-tip: Flip this cake out on a plate that has a bit of a curved edge rather than a cake stand or board or that extra sauce will drip everywhere!
May the Force be with you on your upside-down cake endeavors!
Plum Upside-Down Cake
Yields: one 9-inch cake
Caramel Sauce & Plums
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 5-6 medium-sized plums, sliced into 8 pieces each
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray the sides of a 9-inch cake pan. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat together butter and brown sugar until a bubbling caramel starts to form. Pour directly into cake pan. Be careful the cake pan will be hot! Arrange plums on top of caramel sauce in whichever manner you see fit. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract, eggs and sugar. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
Pour cake batter on top of plums and caramel sauce and smooth the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is cooked through. This can be difficult to tell so be sure that a cake tester in the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when you touch it. Remove cake from the oven and run a knife along the edges to loosen the sides. Flip onto a serving plate with a curved edge so that the extra sauce is able to soak back in. Carefully arrange any fruit that has moved. If you have time, let the cake rest an hour before serving so that it has time to soak up any extra sauce.