Martha loves a proper pineapple upside-down cake, but pineapple isn't the only fruit she's going topsy-turvy with in the kitchen. This week on Martha Bakes, she's baking a plum upside-down cake alongside guest Becky Courchesne, a pastry chef and the co-owner of Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood, California. The family farm is renowned for its stone fruit and the small-batch preserves Courchesne makes with the pristine plums, apricots, peaches, and nectarines she gets onsite.
Unsurprisingly, Courchesne has also perfected many a fruit dessert over the years, and the plum upside-down cake is a favorite from her restaurant days (she worked for Alice Waters at Berkeley's beloved Café Fanny). And what a cake it is! Like other upside-down cake recipes, it starts with the caramel that holds the fruit together. What sets this version apart is the arrangement of the fruit: thinly sliced plums are fanned out, domino-style, until the entire pan is covered. While it may not look like much at that point, once the cake is baked and inverted onto a plate, the effect is stunning.
Plum Upside-Down Cake
While the pièce de résistance is of course that plum topping, don't sleep on the vanilla-perfumed cake underneath. It's moist yet light, thanks to the combination of buttermilk and whipped egg whites.
What is a buckle exactly? It's a fruit dessert that's like a cobbler but with more batter, and like a crumble but softer. The batter comes together in a flash without a mixer (you only need a whisk!), then it's topped with juicy peaches and a sprinkling of sanding sugar before going into the oven.
Rustic and elegant at the same time, this French country classic is the ideal canvas for showcasing any ripe summer fruit (Martha loves sweet, fragrant nectarines here). And the batter couldn't be easier to make: all the ingredients go into the blender. Finish the creamy, custardy cake with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.
Martha Bakes season 11 airs on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).