Some months back, the Food Network did the Kid’s Baking Championship, which was adorable and hilarious. Watching ten year olds in long aprons whipping meringue and crème bruleeing is my idea of entertainment, and inspiration to get Conner in the kitchen sooner rather than later. I’d love a little pint sized sous chef. Adorable. Around Christmastime they did the Holiday Baking Championship, which was also fantastic, gingerbread and festive cookies galore. Then a few weeks ago, they launched the Spring Baking Championship. I’ve been watching regularly, even forgoing my religious Sunday night Bravo watch parties for it, which is a big deal.
One of these past weeks, there was an “upside down cake” challenge, where the eight or so competitors had to do their best spins on the fruit on the bottom classic. Before this episode, I had literally never even heard of anything other than a pineapple upside down cake. Black grandmas all over the country make it with canned pineapple and maraschino cherries, with a typically light and kind of spongy cake, with just the right amount of density to hold up to the fruit without becoming soggy. But on this episode, I witnessed not only the classic pineapple version, but also peach, blueberry, strawberry, and a whole variety of other upside down cakes. I was immediately inspired to make my own. I hit the supermarket in search of perfectly ripe peaches, but spotted plums instead. Boom.
So I hit Pinterest in search of the perfect recipe, which proved to be a little difficult. I wanted the cake to be moist, but not too moist, and a little dense, but not dense enough to read as a fruitcake. I ended up making a few tweaks to a recipe I found on Real Simple’s website, adjusting the cake to match the flavor and texture profile I was going for. The cake wasn’t overly sweet, which I loved, and held up well to the slightly tart plums. Dear Food Network, please keep giving me these baking championship specials!
What You’ll Need:
Six or seven ripe plums, cut into wedges (I used four or five, and it would’ve definitely looked better with a couple more)
½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2/3 cups sour cream
A teaspoon vanilla extract
A teaspoon good almond extract
What You'll Do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a nine-inch baking pan well with baking spray. Spray it really well guys, you want to make sure the cake turns out of the pan easily.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Once the butter is all melted, add the wedges of plum and a quarter cup of sugar and let them work together in the pan until the wedges become syrupy, or for about five minutes. Pour the plums and butter and syrupy deliciousness onto a platter to cool a little bit.
Once the plums have cooled well enough to handle, start to arrange the plums, overlapping in a pretty circle in your baking pan. Pour any pan juices over the arranged plums.
In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the rest of the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Then mix in the egg, sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract. Then add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter over the plums, and spread gently to the edges of the pan. Bake in your preheated oven for 45 – 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least thirty minutes, but no longer than an hour. Place a large plate over the cake pan and invert the cake onto the plate.