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Plum upside down cake

So, today is really the first day that it feels like summer is on its way out…it is rainy and it is noticeably colder than it has been in months. And since summer officially kicks it tomorrow I am going with one last delicious summer recipe – plum upside down cake. Plums are a great inbetweener fruit. Def an end-of-summer thing, but also still great for a short time into fall – like right now.

I have never baked with plums…

Believe me baking with plums wasn’t really a thing for me until maybe five years ago. I love to eat them don’t get me wrong, but their use outside of picking up and biting into was really nada for me. But the more adventurous I got in baking the more I thought why not try these out in some new way?

And I did with a plum tarte tatin that was OUT OF THIS WORLD. And slowly I started using plums in breads and cakes.

Why are plums good to bake with?

Aside from that they taste lovely…

  • Plums hold their shape well when cooked. They don’t get too terribly mushed or lose all consistency.
  • Plums are easy to cut and pit. Now I don’t know about you, but peaches…wtf? I have the worst time pitting peaches every summer. And every summer I say I am never bothering to bake with them again. But plums come right in as a savior – they are firmer than peaches when ripe and ready and easily break from their pits.
  • They are pretty. When cooked cooked plums turn a lovely purple-y red color and I swear, they kinda sparkle on this cake.


Also quick note:

Plum compote is the best of all the compotes. Sliced up and poached in a little simple syrup and you have a dream topping for my olive oil cake, ice cream or a cheesecake. And the cocktails you can make with plum compote – I mean, do I even have to tell you? Just get on it 🙂

About the cake.

Now that I’ve gone on long enough about plums, let me tell you about this cake. This plum upside down cake recipe is made with a cornmeal cake. Now I am not talking a cornbread pretending  to be a cake. This is a legit, perfectly textured vanilla cake that has a teeny bit of crunch and nuttiness from a little cornmeal replacing some of the regular flour. I cannot say enough that trying this was a true game changer for me in my cake baking endeavors.

It is not at all difficult and comes together just like a typical vanilla cake with all the usual suspects:

  • vanilla
  • flour
  • eggs
  • buttermilk
  • baking powder and soda

My famous last words…PRO TIPS for this cake

Just a couple cause I know you love this part…

Spray the cake pan AND butter it. Just spray it lightly. You want the butter for the caramel-y brown sugar topping with the plums, but you also will be really disappointed if you turn it out and the plums and brown sugar are stuck to the bottom. After a few attempts (I still ate all of them) I am sure that a light baking spray before buttering the pan is the way to go.

Use a lot of butter on the bottom. You won’t be sorry when it mixes with the brown sugar and the sugars in the plum slices.

Definitely don’t guess when this is ready. You need to do the toothpick method on this one or you will end up with plum and cake stuck in the pan (again, I know because it happened).

Don’t leave it to cool in the pan longer than five minutes. Turn that baby out onto a plate!


Plum upside down cake


For the cake

  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1.4 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk at room temperature

For the plums

  • 4 tablespoons of butter softened
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 cups of plums sliced (I used maybe three plums that I cut into eight slices each)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray.

To make the cake

  1. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk together. Cream the butter with a stand mixer and the paddle attachment. You want to get the butter good and fluffy so do this for a few good minutes. Then add the sugar and continue to beat about 3 additional minutes. Add your eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time making sure to beat them in well. Beat in the vanilla and the honey.
  2. Taking turns, add the dry ingredients and then the buttermilk. Start with 1/3 of the dry ingredients and then add half the buttermilk. Repeat with the dry and then buttermilk and then finish with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

To assemble the whole cake to bake

  1. Take your sprayed cake pan and smear the four tablespoons of butter MOSTLY on the bottom with a little going up the sides. It will look like too much butter, I know, but this will all turn magical with the plums, the brown sugar and the baking process, so just trust in me.
  2. After the pan is covered in copious amounts of butter sprinkle the brown sugar on the bottom of the pan. Cover it nice and good. Place your plum slices on the brown sugar butter mixture, and then pour your cake batter on top and gently spread to cover the whole pan. Bake in on a middle rack for about 55 minutes. Check on it after about 50 - do the toothpick check. If this cake is underdone everything will stick and you will be disappointed.
  3. When your toothpick comes out clean, pull the cake from the oven and let it sit for no more than five minutes. put a plat on top of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto the pan. Give it a little tap on top and gently pull the pan up. Cool this before cutting and serving.

Let me know whatcha think!