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Plum Upside-Down Cake

September 15, 2009
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At the farmers market this past weekend I had an unfortunate bout of “Oh no, autumn’s coming!  Buy as much fruit as possible now!”  The only thing that’s really in season (that I like) is plums, so without a single thought of what I would do with them, I bought about 3 pounds worth.


I made plum tortes a couple of weeks ago, and we took the extra to a friend’s house last week.  I decided to make a plum “tatin,” which, let’s be honest, is a fancy name for a plum upside-down cake.  Plus, it’s an Ina Garten recipe, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong.


When a recipe says to butter a pan I usually just use cooking spray, but in this case I decided to use real butter.  I did not want the plums to stick to the bottom of the pie dish, since the whole reason I was excited about this was because I thought it would look pretty.  Yes, that really is why I made plum “tatin”. 

The recipe involved making a caramel, which is really only boiling sugar and water together for a long time.  I probably could have let mine boil a little while longer, but I don’t have a candy thermometer and I didn’t want to over-do it.  My wishlist is getting longer and longer…


 After about 35 minutes in the oven, the cake emerged lightly browned and the plum/caramel juices had started to come up over the sides of the pie pan a little bit.  After letting it cool I flipped it out of the pie dish and gave myself a pat on the back.  It didn’t stick!


Let me tell you: this cake is so good.  It’s like eating plum-flavored velvet.  The plum juices soak up through the cake and it has a nice plumy flavor.  And it looks so pretty! 

Now I have to decide what I’m going to do with the other plums… Any suggestions?


Plum Cake “Tatin”

(Adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 10 to 12 purple “prune” plums, cut in half and pitted (I used plain old small plums)
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the plums in the dish, cut side down.

Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Pour evenly over the plums.

Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar (I added just over 1/2 cup of sugar) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the plums and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a plum sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenn permalink
    September 27, 2009 1:16 am

    Have you tried freezing this ‘tatin’?

    • September 27, 2009 8:46 am

      Hi Jenn! I have not tried freezing this cake, but I think you probably could. I made a plum torte that froze really well, and that cake was very good as well. Thanks for checking out my blog!

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