This from scratch upside down cake with plum recipe is made with just a few ingredients. Made with a cornmeal cake with a light crumb with a jammy butter and brown sugar layer of sweet plums. I feel like the best of summer fruit hits it's peak. And plums are one of those things, they are absolutely delicious this time of year.
Getting the most out of all the delicious summer fruit is always a top priority to me, whether it's blueberry peach jam in shortbread bars or strawberries in a from scratch galette recipe, there is always a dessert around here with some in-season summer fruit. .
What is an upside down cake?
An upside down cake is a single layer cake that is literally baked upside down. Meaning, the top is baked in the bottom of the pan. The most common American upside cake is the pineapple upside cake, which was invented sometime in the 1920s (read about it here). But this is not the only kind of upside down cake, there is also the French version, called a tarte tatin.
Most from scratch upside cake recipes call for some kind of fruit at the bottom (or really the top) that is baked with butter and brown sugar, creating a caramelized, jammy fruit on top of a light crumb cake, usually vanilla scented.
Are plums good for baking?
Absolutely, and this upside cake with plum is just one example of utilizing this underrated summer fruit in a dessert. This plum clafoutis is eggy, and something that can easily be eaten for breakfast. And plum crumble bars are perfect to take to your next bbq. Plums are ideal for baking because:
- Plums hold their shape well when cooked. They don't get too terribly mushed or lose all consistency - which is exactly what you want in this upside cake recipe.
- 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.
This upside down cake with plum recipe is made with a from scratch cornmeal cake. Now I am not talking a cornbread pretending to be a cake. This is a legit, perfectly textured, light crumb 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.
The entire cake recipe is not difficult at all and comes together with the usual upside cake suspects:
- brown sugar
- baking powder and baking soda
Tips for success
- 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 want that jammy fruit that you get with the butter and brown sugar.
- Cut the plums into consistent pieces, so they bake evenly
- Spread the cornmeal cake batter gently over the plum bottom, this will ensure the plums stay put.
- Really cream the butter and sugar. You want it light and fluffy.
- Don't leave it to cool in the pan longer than 10-15 minutes. Turn that baby out onto a plate!
Definitely don't guess when this homemade upside cake with plum is ready to come out of the oven. 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).
- stand or hand mixer
For the cake
- ⅓ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1.4 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon honey
- ¾ cups buttermilk room temperature
For the plums
- 4 tablespoon butter softened
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cups plums sliced (I used maybe three plums that I cut into eight slices each)
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray.
To make the cake
- 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.
- Taking turns, add the dry ingredients and then the buttermilk. Start with ⅓ of the dry ingredients and then add half the buttermilk. Repeat with the dry and then buttermilk and then finish with the last ⅓ of the dry ingredients.
To assemble the whole cake to bake
- 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.
- 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.
- When your toothpick comes out clean, pull the cake from the oven and let it sit for no more than 10-15 minutes. put a plate 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.