Plum-Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Upside-down cake, an old-fashioned favorite, is given a lustrous new look with plums and fresh blueberries.–Barbara Fairchild

LC Put the Ease in Pleasin' Note

The duet of plums and blueberries in this any-time-of-day upside-down cake is inspired, no doubt. Although you could have your way when it comes to the type of fruits. Apricots and cherries. Peaches and blueberries. Plums, plums, and more plums. See how that works? Reach for whatever resonates for you—or whatever’s in great abundance and dangerously ripe on your counter. Sort of puts the ease in pleasin’ when you can make it as you will.

Plum-Blueberry Upside-Down Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • For the topping (a little confusing, as it's initially on the bottom)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 plums, any variety, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • For the cake
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk, preferably whole milk
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (optional)

Directions

  • Make the topping
  • 1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides, spreading it to evenly cover the bottom of the pan.
  • 2. Lightly press the plums into the syrup in a circle along the edge of the pan. Spread the berries in the center of the pan. (You can set the pan aside to stand at room temperature for up to 3 hours.)
  • Make the cake
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and position the oven rack to the center position.
  • 4. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl.
  • 5. In another bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar to the butter and beat until well combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients and the milk alternately into the butter mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the topping in the pan.
  • 6. Bake the cake until the top is golden and firm and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • 7. Run a small sharp knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a plate or platter over the pan. Using oven mitts or pot holders, firmly grasp the pan and platter together, then turn them over. Let stand 3 minutes, then gently lift the pan off the cake. (You should feel and hear a sort of “thwunk” as the cake releases from the pan. We found this timing to work perfectly, the cake releasing slick as a whistle each time. But if for some reason it doesn’t, like maybe you got distracted by Facebook and let the cake sit in the pan too long, just run a towel under very hot water, wring it out, and drape it over the bottom of the pan for a few minutes and try again. If some but not all of the fruit and goo slide out of the pan, well, grab a spoon and a knife and do a little creative reconstructing.) Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. The cake is, as most cakes, best served the day it is baked.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Eydie Desser

Aug 04, 2011

This is a beautiful, easy, delicious cake that can be made with so many different fruit combinations. The plums and blueberries were delicious. My tasters thought it would be delicious with just blueberries. If you make it with the plums, I found that cutting four medium-size ones in half, then cutting each half into four slices, yielded the perfect amount to use as a border around the top of the cake. I baked the cake an hour before the guests arrived and served it with a quenelle of sweetened whipped cream, to which I added powdered sugar and vanilla. It was wonderful, but I’m curious what it would have tasted like served warm with ice cream. Either way, it’s a winner. The one unfortunate reality is that the cake is not better the next day. It gets a little gooey. While still yummy, it is just not as fabulous.

Testers Choice
Caroline Chang

Aug 04, 2011

This cake is absolutely scrumptious! The combination of the blueberries made for a sweet and tart topping that played well against the cinnamon in the cake. Goes great with a nice, cold glass of milk. The prep work is a cinch, and it’s a great dessert to serve with guests, since all of the work can be done in advance.

Testers Choice
Abigail Corn

Aug 04, 2011

This is a very easy cake to prepare. It looks very nice and tastes good. I prepared it once as in the recipe, and then last Saturday I changed the fruits to apricots and cherries cut in halves, which was also nice and tasty. I used a Tefal cake pan, which is designed for making French tatins, and that made it easy to turn the cake out without a hitch. It took me only 45 minutes to bake the cake. It was served warm with some mascarpone to five hungry guests and an hour later the plate was in the dishwasher…the best compliment to both recipe and baker.

Testers Choice
Jyoti R.

Aug 04, 2011

This makes a very nice summertime dessert. I could see serving this for breakfast without the vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

Aug 04, 2011

A last-minute invitation to a family get-together gave this recipe a chance to really shine. It was easy and uncomplicated to throw together. The next day proved to all what a wonderful combination plums and blueberries can make. The topping is sweet without being overtly so. As a bonus, there is a subtle tartness from the plums. The cake is dense enough to stand up to the topping. So many people asked for the secret to this one. The only minor hitch was that it has been such a good year for berries that they are juicier than in the past, and there was a large amount of juice bubbling up and over the sides of the pan. I found that placing the baking dish on a larger sheet pan and tending to juice removal with a bulb baster solved this nicely, leaving me a fairly clean oven and lots of lovely juice for the cake. I served this with a hint of cinnamon sugar in softly whipped cream.

Testers Choice
Elsa M. Jacobson

Aug 04, 2011

I’m a great big fan of the upside-down cake; like with bundt cakes, I always feel a little like I’m cheating, because the results are so impressive with so little effort! I’m happy to report it worked again! I made this cake late at night so it would be a first-thing-in-the-morning greeting. When I went downstairs early in the morning, a full quarter of the cake was already gone, and the rest disappeared shortly thereafter. I envisioned this as a morning treat and didn’t plan on the optional vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but fortunately we happened to have whipped cream in the fridge. The accent of the whipped cream next to (or atop!) a slice was the most visually pleasing presentation, as this is a darker than usual version of upside-down cake. The blueberries take the center stage position and the plums provide a ring of support encircling them. Adding to this darker version is the use of dark brown sugar, so not only is the fruit darker, but the cake is as well. As a result, while the cake is lustrous, it’s also more attractive in slices than it was as a whole, a change from how I usually feel about upside-down cakes. When I got to the store, the pluots were riper and more plentiful than the plums, so I used them. I could easily recommend the pluots again, or any sort of plum — including, for those planning to make this cake later in the season, Italian prune plums.

I’m not really sure why Fairchild feels the cake needs one tablespoon of milk in addition to the half cup. It seemed a little fussy to me, and although I went with it this time, I might not bother again the next time. I baked this cake in a cast-iron skillet, and made the topping right in the skillet, so it was a one-pan process for me! My cake tested done at 45 minutes. I removed it and followed the standing, loosening, flipping, standing, and lifting directions precisely and the skillet lifted off the cake perfectly, with not even one small piece of fruit stuck in the pan. Should that happen, however, I’ve found that the fruit can be reattached discreetly while the cake is still warm, and I’ve done this with other upside-down cakes even when multiple areas stuck after I flipped the cake over — another plus for the upside-down cake genre.

Comments
Comments
  1. Jan says:

    This recipe was in Bon Appetit magazine years ago, at which time I made it, loved it, and have been searching for the recipe ever since. Thank you!

  2. Deb says:

    Perfect recipe for the weekend. I found plums in my CSA box this week & have been looking for inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

    • David Leite says:

      Deb, our pleasure. Please tell us how it turns out. if you take a picture, I’ll post it.

  3. I was considering this recipe when I found a similar one by David Lebovitz. Identical ingredient list but significantly different ratio for butter and sugar. After a side-by-side comparison, I went with Lebovitz’s recipe but now I’m curious to see how this one would turn out. This calls for more baking this weekend!

  4. Nathalie says:

    A kind word of advice to my fellow bakers. A loose-bottomed pan might sound like a good idea (imagine with me: easy removal, leaving a beautiful fruit-filled cake) But that does not happen! The batter spills through the cracks, and it’s a very sweet-smelling but smoky, messy cleanup thereafter. Don’t know if this was just my novice mistake (probably!) but thought I’d highlight it nonetheless. (Cake itself looks good though, haha!)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Ooof, Nathalie, I’ve had that happen to me, so I know the mess that ensues. So sorry to hear it! In my experience, this happens when I don’t have the bottom of the pan perfectly situated in the ring mold. And I know many, many bakers who always, always wrap a double layer of heavy-duty foil around the outside bottom of a springform pan to steer clear of the very situation you just experienced. Do let us know if you were able to salvage some of the cake (I certainly hope so!) and what you thought!

      • Nathalie says:

        Renee, thanks for the suggestion! The foil makes perfect sense! I followed the recipe for the new york cheesecake on your website which calls for foil for the bain marie. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that. Keeps water out… keeps batter in! Luckily I was able to salvage most of the cake. The sugary topping was gone, but the fruit was still good (I used peaches) and the cake itself was hailed as “great with tea”. I’d chalk it down to a qualified success!

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Terrific to hear, Nathalie! and yes, definitely a qualified success, can’t wait to bake this cake…and while we’re on the topic, it’s been several weeks since my husband last made that New York cheesecake, I dare say we’re due…

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