Lemon Plum Upside-Down Cake

February 13, 2012

I didn’t see it coming. It was unexpected and I was definitely not looking for it, but something happened to me in the produce section at the grocery store the other day. I fell in love.

Maybe love is too strong a word. How about besotted? Head over heels? Smitten?

Was it an old high school sweetheart? An admirer from afar? No; it was a plum.

A lemon plum to be exact. First it enticed me with its beauty and shape and then later, once I got it home and decided to add it to one of my favorite upside down cakes, I knew it was just as beautiful on the inside. Sweet and tart, it added just the right punch to my buttermilk cake  enhanced with a spritz of lemon zest.

So I poured all that love into a 9-inch cake pan and baked it up fluffy and tender. The little golden heart shaped plums made my cake worthy of a shot from Cupid’s quiver- Love, thy name is Lemon Plum Upside Down Cake. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Makes One 9-inch Cake

1/2 cup/120 ml unsalted butter, softened, divided
1/2 cup/120 ml plus 1/4 cup/60 ml granulated sugar, divided
1 cup/240 ml unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp/2.5 ml baking powder
1/2 tsp/2.5 ml baking soda
1/4 tsp/1.25 ml salt
1 large egg
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup/75 ml buttermilk
1 tsp/5 ml vanilla
3 lemon plums, stoned and each cut into 12 slices
2 tsp/10 ml lemon juice
Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment

Preheat an oven to 350 ºF/180ºC/gas 4

Cream the 1/2 cup/120 ml butter and 1/2 cup/120 ml sugar in a bowl with a mixer and continue to beat for 3 minutes or until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg and grated lemon zest and beat for 1 minute longer.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in another bowl and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla in 3 additions. The batter should be smooth.

In a 9-inch cake pan melt the 2 tbsp/30 ml butter over medium heat. Sprinkle over the 1/4 cup/60 ml sugar and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the heat and lay down the plum slices in a decorative pattern working from the center to the outside, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Return the pan to the heat and cook undisturbed for another 4 minutes. Look for the juices to bubble up and around the plums.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully and evenly add the batter to the pan covering the fruit. Try not to disturb the placement of the fruit slices. Bake the cake in the middle of the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate. Serve the cake warm or room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream, your choice. If you’re lucky there will be leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Tip: for a great Valentine’s Day one pan meal look at Braised Chicken Involtini with Barley Risotto.


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