Of late peaches have been the fruit to talk about. We have exceptional peaches which are grown on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains and at this time of year they are a hot topic, rightly so. However a more subtle fruit that shines right now are plums. I had no idea there were so many varieties until I became a locavore a few years ago. Through our local Farmer’s Market I’ve enjoyed learning about many new varieties, each available only for a few weeks time.
Different plum varieties: Elephant Heart (front left), Red Amber (front right), Black Beauty (back)
As our weather has cooled significantly (bringing 48 hours of pounding rain this week) I wanted to bake something with plums. While pondering ideas I came upon a group of recipes I had cut out of magazines five years ago and completely forgot about. I thumbed through them to see if anything was still of interest and found this beautiful upside-down cake, the first I’ve made. It is easy and a bit rustic which I love. When making it I noted the cup of sugar (in addition to the brown sugar) and was worried it would be overly sweet; not so. It has a great light flavor allowing the plums to take center stage.
A note about plums. Like peaches there are freestone varieties (those varieties in which the pit comes away from the fruit with ease) and not. I chose to use a mixture of plums I had on hand. I found using plums that were slightly under ripe (more firm) worked well. I sliced the wedges, inserted a knife in between the wedges, and rotated the handle to the right and left, allowing the wedge to twist off the pit which it did with ease. With very ripe plums (non freestone) I was unsuccessful removing them from the pit without completely mashing the fruit).
PLUM UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
Adapted from Country Home magazine (2006)
· 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
· ½ cup packed light brown sugar
· 2 tablespoons water
· 3 cups pitted plums, cut into wedges (same type or mixed)
· 1 ¾ all purpose flour (regular or gluten free)
· ½ almond meal or flour
· 1 cup granulated sugar
· 1 tablespoon baking powder
· ¼ teaspoon salt
· 1 cup whole milk
· 2 eggs
· 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
· 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place 3 tablespoons butter in a 9 x 9 inch baking pan. Place the baking pan in the heated oven for 5 minutes or until butter is melted.
3. Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the brown sugar and water, stirring until combined. Spread so the mixture is an even layer in the pan.
4. Arrange the plum wedges on the brown sugar mixture and set aside.
5. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a mixer combine flour, almond meal/flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.
6. To the dry mixture add the milk, remaining 5 tablespoons butter, eggs and vanilla. Beat with hand held or standing mixer on low until fully combined. Beat an additional 1 minute on medium speed.
7. Stir in the orange peel. Pour or spoon into the baking pan on top of the plums.
8. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cake seemed moist, almost liquid at 45 minutes but firmed up once removed from the oven.
9. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack (note: do not allow it to sit longer or it may be difficult to remove from the pan). Run a dinner knife along the sides of the pan to ensure it is freed up and turn onto a serving plate. Be careful as the cake and pan will still be quite warm. Cool about 45 minutes.