Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Plum Upside-Down Cake

Hello my lovely readers. I’m back! Finally resurfacing! It’s been a week since my last post, but I just couldn’t get it together until now. First I was home visiting my family/eating a lot of great food/riding my horse/relaxing, and then my better half was out of town so I spent a few nights staying up way too late catching up on my DVR. Oops?! Oh well, my life motto has always been better late then never. And for a particularly punctual person, it seems a bit ironic, no?

I made this cake almost exactly a month ago, for a wonderful evening Kevin and I spent up at Tanglewood with both sets of parents. Our parents met each other for the first time last year at Tanglewood, so it was only fitting that we returned – same time, same place, even the very same band! I was pleased to observe so much had changed from the last year to this, and I enjoyed that evening so thoroughly. Our parents’ first meeting, I remember so vividly, wasn’t necessarily awkward but it wasn’t completely comfortable either. Kevin and I have been crazy about each other for a long time, so the initial meeting of our families held a lot of weight. This year, however, marked our second year together and the first full year of our parents knowing each other. Our Moms chatted and laughed and smiled with each other, finding so many more things to talk about than the first night a year ago. Our dads talked shop, sports, golf – you know, the manly stuff. I just sat there stuffing my face (kidding…mostly), taking in the scene before me. Few things make my heart swell like those little moments, where our two families have become one, and the joy and happiness and contentment is tangible. I feel such like a lucky girl!

Now this cake, it also makes me feel like a lucky girl. As I was considering the recipe, I was foolishly concerned that it was too simple. With so few ingredients, I thought, how could it be a good  cake. I don’t like plain cake, I don’t like dry cake or bland cake or any cake that isn’t really special. I just like darn good  cake. It has to be moist and appropriately dense, not too crumbly but not too firm. I guess I’m just a bit picky!

My mom loves upside-down fruit cakes (as I think I have mentioned here before), and her love has been transferred onto me. I’ve been loving them this year! They’re the wonderful balance between lighter, fruity flavors, and a richer, buttery texture. I’d never used plums for a cake like this before, but they held up surprisingly well. They were just soft enough for a fork to slide through them easily, but kept a nice texture and a superb caramelized flavor. The cake itself was equally dense and moist, and would be a wonderful canvas for many other fruits and flavorings. I can see myself referring to this recipe again and again and again – it’s spectacular.

Plum Upside Down Cake
adapted from Bakingdom

Topping Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons apricot jam (or any other jam/preserves you prefer)
6  plums (or another stone fruit, if you choose), pitted and sliced into eighths (you can also skin them, if desired)

Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk (regular milk would also work fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs

To make the topping: Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside.

1) In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sugar together. Once melted, stir in the jam until incorporated. Simmer the mixture for about 3 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

2) Once the sugar mixture is cooled, arrange the sliced plums across the bottom of the pan; set aside while you prepare the cake batter.

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2) In the bowl of a stand mix, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beating until incorporated after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed. Stir in the vanilla.

3) Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of milk, mixing until just combined after each addition. Remember to keep scraping the bowl down as needed. Be careful not to overmix.

4) Pour the cake batter over the prepared fruit in the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5) Allow to cool in the pan, on a wire cooling rack, for 30 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate or cake plate and serve warm, or at room temperature.

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