Friday, July 10, 2009

Plum Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

This is a good ROI cake. You put little effort in, and you get big returns. Isn't that the way all baking should be? :) I say this because it's really an easy cake to make, and yet it looks so impressive and difficult when you present it to your guests. Now that's bang for your buck!

And it's not just presentation that wins people over; it's taste. This cake is a perfect summer treat with fresh fruit from the farmer's market, and has a shocking, totally-out-of-character-for-Marni non-chocolate personality. You can swap out other fruit for the ones called for in the recipe, which gives this cat of a cake 9 lives! In fact, I did just that. In the cookbook, the title is Plum Huckleberry Upside-Down Cake, but come on folks, huckleberries aren't exactly everyday produce. So out they went and blueberries were happily invited to the party. David Lebovitz is the inventor and mastermind behind this amazing recipe and if you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that I'd practically take a bullet for the guy (does it have to hurt, though?).

Plum Blueberry Upside-Down Cake
Recipe by David Lebovitz in Room for Dessert
One 9-inch round cake or 10-inch square cake; 10-12 servings

The plum blueberry topping:
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup (4 ounces) blueberries
6 to 8 medium plums (about 1 pound)

The cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

1. To make the plum blueberry topping: Melt the butter in a 9-inch round cake pan or a 10-inch square cake pan, directly on the stove top, over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar is thoroughly moistened. Remove from the heat and cool briefly.

2. Sprinkle half of the blueberries evenly over the moistened brown sugar. Cut the plums in half, remove the pits, and cut the plum halves into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the plum slices over the blueberries in concentric, overlapping circles, or just scatter them evenly. Strew the rest of the blueberries on top of the plum slices.

3. To make the cake: Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes in a standing electric mixer. Stop the mixer once and scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure the butter is completely incorporated. Add the vanilla.

5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated.

6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix half of the flour mixture into the batter. Stir the milk into the batter, add the remaining dry ingredients, and stir just until smooth; do not overmix. The batter will be quite thick.

7. Carefully spread the batter over the fruit in the cake pan, smoothing with a spatula. Bake the upside-down cake for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

8. Let the cake stand at least 20 minutes before unmolding. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert a serving plate over the cake and carefully flip over both cake and plate simultaneously. Lift off the cake pan and scrape any fruit that may have stuck to the pan back onto the cake - or enjoy it yourself. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Variation: Make the topping with 6 medium apricots instead of plums, and substitute 1 cup of any kind of berries (except strawberries) for the blueberries.

Step-by-Step in Pictures

Melt the butter directly into the pan over a burner.

Add the brown sugar and stir to moisten...

Sprinkle half the blueberries on top...

Slice about 1 lb. of plums...

Place the plum slices in concentric circles, then sprinkle with the remaining blueberries...

To make the cake batter, cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla, eggs, and half the dry ingredients...
Add milk, and then add the remaining half of the dry ingredients...
Dollop the batter on top of the fruit in the pan...

Spread the batter evenly over the fruit, then bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour...

The top will be golden brown when done and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean...

Serve this beauty!


Mom said...

Your pictures are so beautiful and I know it looked that pretty in person! One of my favorite cakes - so amazing since it hasn't a speck of chocolate, as you say!!

Vice Girl said...

marni, this looks so delicious! i love fruit-based cakes so i'm going to attempt this at some point. i also am a huge fan of your step-by-steps! xo

Carolyn Jung said...

That is one gorgeous cake! And plums have been so especially good this year, don't you think? I bought some last week at the farmers' market and couldn't stop eating them. They were like juicy candy!

Anonymous said...

This freaking amazing cake came JUST at the right time! I happen to have tons of fresh blueberries and plums at hand...YES YES YES! thank you!! *HUG*

Marni said...

Mom - Thanks. :) You provided me with beautiful fruit for it! And I really need that cookbook. I can't just keep using your copy! We live in different cities!

Vice Girl - Yay! I'm glad you said that about fruit-based cakes because sometimes I question the very logic of that (voluntarily avoiding chocolate?). And glad you like the step-by-steps. I hope that shows you how easy it is to make and encourages you to try it soon.

Carolyn - Thanks! Do you go to the Mountain View farmer's market (the best, in my humble opinion)? Maybe I'll run into you there one day...

Burp and Slurp - first of all. Love your blog name!! Second of all, happy to hear my timing was right! It was fate that brought you here. :)

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