A rustic, incredibly moist plum cake with almond flour, cornmeal and a buttery caramelized plum topping. Make it gluten-free too!
Before we talk about this lusciously sticky plum cake, can we agree that summer is a fantastic time to bake a cake?
I know, summer is also hot (in varying degrees depending on where you live).
Nonetheless, 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.
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.
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.
What kind of plums can you use in upside-down cake?
There are so many different varieties of plums/pluots/plumcots out there that honestly, it can get confusing.
Just know 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.
Tips for making sticky upside-down plum cake:
- 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.
Watch this video to learn how to make a perfect parchment cake circle:
More cakes with summer fruit:
Cornmeal Upside-Down Plum Cake
- 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (280 g) room temperature butter, plus 1 tablespoon for cake pan
- 1 1/2 cups (144 g) almond flour
- 1 cup (160 g) polenta or coarse cornmeal
- 1/4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 6 or 7 (460 g) plums, sliced into 1/2-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 1/3 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.