Monday, September 23, 2013

upside-down plum cake.

Come September, the second the season's shift, apples become the most popular kid at the farmer's market. End of season tomatoes get thrown to the wayside, zucchini gets ignored, and plums and peaches are all but forgotten.  I am guilty as charged of such acts of negligence and this year I told myself I needed to be better. I needed to embrace  the late summer produce since it will be many months before it comes back.  

The easiest way to embrace summer when fall is knocking at your door is by using summer produce in fall inspired recipes.  Things like grilled pork chops with peaches, whole wheat spaghetti tossed with slow roasted tomatoes, and this upside-down plum cake.  This cake is magical. It's reminiscent of a tarte tatin but a little more unique and unexpected.  The plums bake down, mingling with the brown sugar and butter to produce a caramelized topping that pairs perfectly with the light as air cake.  This makes for one hell of a birthday cake (maybe I'm the only one who loves fruit based cakes) but I also love it as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. There is something beautiful about the meeting of summer and fall because only in that world can desserts like this exist.  

Upside-Down Plum Cake
Recipe via David Lebovitz 

One 10-inch (25cm) cake, 8-10 servings

Plums are wonderful here but peaches or apricots would also be lovely.  The number of plums you use are dependent on the size of your plums.  I had fairly tiny Italian Prune plums and ended up using about 15.  Just remember more fruit is a good thing.  You want the bottom to be entirely covered! 

For the fruit layer

3 tablespoons butter (45g), salted or unsalted
3/4 cup packed (135g) light brown sugar
15 Italian prune plums, quartered

For the cake layer

8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature.
1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (125ml) whole milk, at room temperature

Melt the 3 tablespoons (45g) of butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet.  Add the brown sugar and cook while stirring, until the sugar is melted and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool.  Once cool, arrange the fruit in a pinwheel design. Set aside.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350F. (190C)

Beat the 8 tablespoons of butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Do not overmix: stir just until the flour is barely incorporated into the batter.

Spread the batter over the fruit, then bake for 45 minutes to one hour (depending on the size of the pan, and the thickness of the batter.) The cake is ready when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center feels just set.

Remove from oven, let cool about 20 minutes, then place a cake plate on top, and wearing oven mitts, flip the cake out on to the plate, taking care, as there may be some hot caramel that might escape.

Serving: Upside Down Cake is best served warm, perhaps with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It can be made in advance, left in the pan, and rewarmed in the cake pan or skillet right before serving. It’s also very good rewarmed in a microwave, and served immediately.

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