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Cornmeal Upside-Down Plum Cake

4.82 from 16 community reviews

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A rustic, incredibly moist plum cake with almond flour, cornmeal and a buttery caramelized plum topping. Make it gluten-free too!

Sliced plums with melted sugar arranged concentrically in a cake pan.

Before we talk about this lusciously sticky plum cake, can we agree that summer is a fantastic time to bake a cake?

The absolute abundance of fruit in summertime tends to make bakers giddy with the possibilities.

The cake we have here — a classic upside-down beauty with a layer of tangy-sweet caramelized plums and a tender buttery-crumb  — happens to be one of the best desserts to show off colorful plums and pluots.

Sliced wedges of upside down plum cake with sticky sauce on a white cake stand.

My daughter saw this cake and said “Red is just the best.” It’s true!

Upside-down cake recipes are always popular, but plums lend their gorgeous color in a way that a pear or pineapple doesn’t.

Technically the upside-down part of the cake in the pics is made with pluots, not plums.

Sliced wedges of upside down plum cake with sticky sauce on a white cake stand.

Pluots are a hybrid stone fruit, 75 percent plum and 25 percent apricot. They’re sweet, agreeable and totally interchangeable with plums in this recipe.

Types of plums to use in cake

There are many different varieties of plums/pluots/plumcots out there that honestly, it can get confusing.

  • Rest assured that you can use any variety of stone fruit in this cake — including nectarines, peaches and Italian plums. As long as they’re on the firmer side of ripe they won’t turn to complete mush after baking.
Sliced wedges of upside down plum cake with sticky sauce on a white cake stand.

Baking tips

  • You’re going to make a light caramel sauce for the “sticky” part of this cake. Yay! Choose a small but sturdy sauce pan. Keep an eye on the sugar and try to be patient. The sugar and water will begin to bubble, reduce slightly and then turn golden, which can take about 15 minutes.
  • There’s very little wheat flour in the cake batter, as it’s mostly almond flour and cornmeal. Make this cake completely gluten-free by substituting an all-purpose gluten-free blend like King Arthur Measure for Measure or Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1.
  • To release the cake easily, coat the baking pan with butter and use a parchment circle to line the bottom.
Sliced wedges of upside down plum cake with sticky sauce on a white cake stand.

More cakes with summer fruit:

California Plum Upside Down Cake

Cornmeal Upside-Down Plum Cake

Karen Tedesco
Upside Down Plum Cake: The best recipe for simple summer plum cake with a layer of beautiful red plums and a moist, tender cake batter with cornmeal. Also easy to make a gluten-free cake. 
Print Pin
4.82 from 16 community reviews
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (257 g) room temperature butter, plus 1 tablespoon for cake pan
  • cups (144 g) almond flour
  • 1 cup (160 g) polenta or coarse cornmeal
  • ¼ cup (35 g) all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 or 7 (460 g) red plums, sliced into ½-inch wedges
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract


  • Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Butter the bottom and sides of 9-inch cake pan. Cut a circle of parchment to fit the bottom and press into the pan.
  • Whisk together the almond flour, polenta, flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a bowl.
  • Put 1 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan with ⅓ cup water. Stir to dissolve, then place the pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar begins to form large bubbles and turns a light amber color (be patient — this can take 15 minutes or so). Remove from the heat and drop 2 tablespoons of the butter into the syrup, swirling to melt. Immediately pour into the cake pan.
  • Arrange the plums in a single layer around the bottom of the pan (careful – the syrup is very hot).
  • Beat the remaining 2 sticks butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed in a heavy duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until each one is emulsified, then add the almond extract. Stir in the flour mixture in 2 additions until blended.
  • Scrape the batter over the plums and even out the top. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the top is golden, crackled and firm to the touch. Set the cake on a rack and cool completely.
  • When the cake is cool, run a dull knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Put a large plate over the top and invert the pan. Peel off the parchment paper. 

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Make this cake with any firm-ripe summer stone fruit like plums, pluots, nectarines or a mixture.
Inspired by a recipe from Rustic Fruit Desserts, and this cake.


Calories: 528kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 235mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 71g | Vitamin A: 505IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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  1. 4 stars
    Possible to substitute olive oil for the butter? And I’ll be using ripe pears. What do you think–about the same volume as the plums?


    1. Janis – I have not tested this cake using olive oil in place of the butter, so can’t recommend it. But using pears would be great!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is magic. My son and I made it together the first time. When he peeled off the parchment paper, and that gorgeous red circle of plums shined up at us, I couldn’t believe it had come out right the first time. With a gluten free sibling in the house, fresh, special desserts were starting to get rare around here. It even works great with my high protein diet. This one satisfies absolutely everybody. It’s hard to wait, but even better the next day out of the fridge.
    We enjoyed it with lots of whipped cream the first night. That cut the tartness of the plums just a little, and held it all together on the fork where it was crumbling. Next day there’s none of that, as the texture really holds together differently then. Fantastic both ways, which is good because it’s so dense and rich you can spread out your indulging over a few days. Yummm…
    I appreciate your respectful inclusion of the source inspiration while acknowledging your own particular inspiration. I read many, many similar recipes before deciding on this one. It didn’t let me down, with lots of nutrition-rich flavor. I used King Arthur Flour’s Cup for Cup all purpose flour replacement for the scant 1/4 cup of refined flour necessary. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, and making me a better summer cook!!

  3. katherine gusdorf says:

    5 stars
    This is fantastic!!! My all time favorite non chocolate cake!!

  4. Chris Streight says:

    My daughter, Sylvie, just made this for my birthday with blackberries that we had in the freezer from last summer and fresh peaches. Wow! Delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. You are well-loved! The blackberries and peaches must be so beautiful in this cake. Happy Birthday!

  5. Please credit this recipe to the proper source; it is not your original recipe and should not be presented as such. (Please note that the NYTimes does credit the source for the recipe, King Restaurant.)

    1. Hi Michele – Thanks for pointing out the beautiful cake from King that appeared in the NYT — it was definitely one of a handful of recipes that inspired me. I’ve just made the sources clear in the recipe notes, which I try to do consistently when I see something that sparks my creativity.

      Like many baking recipes, this one is structured on classic ratios. Upside-down cakes, almond cakes and cornmeal cakes are all established desserts that I certainly can’t take credit for inventing!

      That said, my process for developing recipes always involves testing, tweaking and writing based on my own taste and experience. All recipes are variations on a theme, but it is important to give credit. I appreciate your comment and hope you’ll try making the cake.

      1. Thanks for making the sources clear.
        I’ve happily made the King Restaurant cake a few times (I’ve had this recipe awhile) and it’s well worth wider dispersal and I plan to try your gluten free option as well.

  6. I was wondering if i could replace the almond flour with all-purpose flour since i have difficulty in finding some in super markets near me..??

    1. Hi Dimitra – Yes, you can substitute all-purpose flour. Let me know how it turns out for you!

      1. Thank you!! I will let you know!!!

    1. Thanks Laura – they are really so naturally pretty 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    This is the peak of plum season and this cake is the perfect dessert to make with them! Looks fabulous!

    1. Thanks Natalie! I love to just eat plums out of hand, but cake is really the next best thing 🙂