plum upside-down cake


I found this recipe on the Food and Wine website and just had to try it. A year ago I brought back some plums from Singapore to make a plum-apple pie. This year, I found plums at the Suan Luang Market at Baht 10 apiece (about 30 US cents). They were sour so I thought of putting them in this cake. In the end, baking the cake was easy; the recipe is simple and straightforward. The cake isn’t sticky and gooey because the caramel underneath the plums gets absorbed into the cake, turning it golden. The result is a cake that is lightly sweet, moist, and tender, and the plum flavor tart but mild.

Prep time: 60 minutes (includes cooling time)
Baking time: 55 minutes.
Cooling time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12-16 slices.

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water plus more for washing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4-6 medium-large plums, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges

1/2 cup crème fraîche* (I made my own as it’s not available in Bangkok)
2 tablespoons low fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
2 large eggs, beaten

Crème Fraîche for serving (Can use whipped cream instead)

*To make a quick crème fraîche, combine 1 1/2 cups milk with 1/2 cup Greek style yogurt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip until stiff peaks form. When the whisk is raised, the tips should slightly curl. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Prepare the plums. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/175˚C. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil without stirring. Cook over high heat 5-7 minutes. While cooking, wash down the sides of the pot with a silicone pastry brush dipped in water. Watch the color—the bubbles will begin to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and add the 2 tablespoons butter.

Immediately pour the caramel into a 9×2 inch round metal cake pan, spreading it with a silicone spatula to cover the base. Layer the plum wedges in a circle all around the base of the pan to cover the caramel. You should have 2 rows forming a single layer.

Make the cake. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/2 cup crème fraîche with the milk and vanilla. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat on low speed 30 seconds.

At low speed beat in the butter until the mixture resembles moist crumbs, another 30 seconds. Beat in the eggs also on low speed until just incorporated. Beat the batter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce to medium speed and beat in the crème fraîche mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape the batter over the plums in the pan, and gently spread the batter in an even layer. Pin a wet Magic Cake strip around the cake pan to keep the cake top from doming during baking.

Bake the cake in the center of the oven 55-60 minutes until golden and the cake surface springs back when lightly touched. Remove from heat and remove the Cake Strip. Cool cake in the pan on a wire cooling rack 30 minutes.

To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin blade around the edges to loosen it, then put the serving plate upside down on top. Invert the cake so that the pan bottom is on top. Holding the pan and plate together, gently shake them up and down. The cake will slip down onto the plate. Remove the pan. If a few pieces of plum have stuck to the pan bottom, slip them back into the cake. The plums will look black around the edges but they are not burnt. The color is due to the cooked plum skins. Slice cake into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraîche.



miami beach birthday cake

Miami Beach Birthday Cake  (adapted from
I’ve made this cake once before two years ago. When Andy requested a chocolate cake with caramel sauce for his birthday, I thought at once of this cake. It’s not richly  gooey chocolate-y, which Andy dislikes. In addition, it has a crunchy topping that he would appreciate; chunks of chocolate mixed with slivered almonds and graham cracker crumbs. And through it all, the quiet tang of crème fraîche.


1 cup (6 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided (I used bittersweet chocolate)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2-4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons for pans
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar in 1 cup measure topped up with milk)
1 jar butterscotch caramel

Crème Fraîche Frosting
11/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 375˚F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and mix it with 2 tablespoons flour. Grease bottom and sides of one 9- inch spring form pan with this butter-flour mixture. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper and grease again.

Cake Baker’s Note: I used two 8 inch spring form pans.

Melt 1/3 cup morsels in a bowl over hot boiling water and set aside for the cake. To make the topping, combine graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Add enough melted butter to make the graham crackers come together. Add nuts and 2/3 cup morsels; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add half the buttermilk or sour milk. Scrape down the sides. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the remaining buttermilk/sour milk and vanilla. Add 1/3 flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Scrape down the sides. Add half the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add half the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add the rest of the egg mixture and all the melted chocolate. Beat until just combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just moistened. There should be light streaks of flour in the batter. Scrape down the sides.

 Cake Baker’s Note: To make a chocolate swirl cake, add the melted morsels after the batter has been poured into the pans. Use a thin metal blade or a skewer to make swirls. Be careful not to tear the parchment/waxed paper liners.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with crumb mixture.  Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan then unmold and cool completely on wire racks.

To make crème fraîche, put heavy cream, sour cream, and sugar in a medium bowl. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes. Whip until soft peaks form.

The cake must be completely cooled to frost. Slice the cake horizontally in half. Spread butterscotch caramel on the top of the cut side of the bottom layer. Place the layer with the chocolate-nut mixture on top of the butterscotch topside up. Frost sides with creme fraiche. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice with a serrated knife.


  • For the bottom layer, spread crème fraîche instead of butterscotch. Then frost the sides with crème fraîche.