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Plum Upside-Down Cake

Cornmeal gives this cake a pleasantly grainy texture.

  • servings: 10




  • 10 red or purple plums
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 9 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • All-purpose flour, for pan
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, preferably coarse-ground
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup almond paste
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup milk


  1. Step 1

    Prepare fruit layer: Cut plums into quarters; remove pits. Heat butter in a large saute pan over medium heat until it sizzles. Add plums; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until well coated and shiny.

  2. Step 2

    Add sugar and cinnamon, and stir to coat plums. Cook, stirring frequently, until plums soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Step 3

    Remove fruit with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a baking sheet to cool slightly. Remove pan from heat, saving syrup.

  4. Step 4

    Butter and flour a 9 1/2-by-2-inch round cake pan. Arrange fruit, with cut edges down, in concentric circles starting with outside edge of pan. Fit leftover fruit into any spaces that remain.

  5. Step 5

    Return syrup to medium heat, and boil until very thick with large bubbles. Immediately pour over fruit. Let cool.

  6. Step 6

    Prepare cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in cornmeal with a fork.

  7. Step 7

    Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Crumble in almond paste, and beat with the paddle attachment. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, and beat until creamy.

  8. Step 8

    Add egg yolks, and beat until well combined. Beat in extracts. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Set aside.

  9. Step 9

    In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Gradually sprinkle in 2 tablespoons sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. Add a third of the whites to batter, and mix with a whisk. Gently fold in remaining whites.

  10. Step 10

    Spread batter over fruit, and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan.

  11. Step 11

    Just before serving, place pan over low heat for 1 minute to ease unmolding. Run a knife around edges to loosen, and invert onto a serving plate.

Martha Stewart Living, June/July 1993

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