This is going to sound slightly irrational, but I changed my mind about fall. Right after explaining how I attempted to make fall happen by baking with apples and pears, it occurred to me that I hadn’t baked with plums yet this year. So, if we could just hit pause on fall for a moment while we enjoy this cake, then we can get back to letting the change of seasons happen as it may. And, this isn’t my fault. I blame all the other food blogs out there that are showing off gorgeous baked goods with plums. Everywhere I looked, I saw tarts and cakes brimming with late summer fruits, and I had to bake something with them too. I rushed out to grab some pretty, red plums and yellow nectarines so I could attempt my first ever upside-down cake. The recipe is from Deborah Madison’s Seasonal Fruit Desserts, and the upside-down part was not at all as scary as I thought it might be.
The process began by making a caramel in a cast-iron skillet with melted butter and light brown sugar. After cooking for just a few minutes, the heat was turned off, and the sliced nectarines and plums were layered into the caramel. The cake batter was started by mixing together butter, sugar, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts, and eggs. Multiple flours were used here, and those included all-purpose flour, corn flour for flavor, and whole wheat pastry flour for sturdiness. The flours were combined with baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and that was added to the butter mixture in parts alternating with buttermilk. The batter was spread over the sliced fruit in the cast-iron skillet, and the cake was baked until golden. After removing the pan from the oven, you want to flip the cake out of it while it’s hot to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom. Running a knife around the edge helps loosen the cake from the sides, then cover the skillet with a platter, lift with a towel or oven mitts, and invert it. I was sure I was going to have a sticky mess all over my kitchen and myself for that matter after attempting that maneuver, but no, the cake plopped out without any issues.
The reds and yellows of the nectarines and plums fade a bit while baking and meld into the color of the cake, but upside-down on a platter, the sliced fruit shines in the caramel. The mix of flours did give the cake itself good character. I served whipped cream on the side which was a nice contrast with the warm, just-baked cake. I’m glad I grabbed those summer fruits before they were gone, and now I’ll let fall resume its schedule.