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upside down plum cake on pretty white plate with antique silver spoonI had a natter about this recipe over on my Greek pages yesterday. The gist of the story is that after a friend of mine noshed through about a quarter of this cake in one sitting, I concluded it was a winner. The day I made it I had several very ripe plums in the fridge begging to be consumed a.s.a.p., but although I was in the mood for baking I didn’t have much time. So I scrolled down my (long) list of bookmarked favourites and saw this recipe from Real Simple. It was just right, not too many ingredients, not too much faffing around (well, a bit of faffing with chopping and in some cases peeling plums); it looked like a good option.

I used the sweet round plums rather that the Damson variety (the smaller, egg shaped ones), but any type would work I think. Some of them were really soft and a bit gooey, they were so overripe. Not at all deterred I just cut those in half, scooped out the soft flesh and threw some of the skins away in case they got too chewy. For this reason I used a few more plums than the recipe says, so I could completely cover the base of the pan. Also for this reason my pictures look nothing like the magazine’s!

The result was lovely. A beautifully light cake, with a tasty layer of tangy sweetness on top. You can easily eat through half this cake without feeling caked-out. Perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee. Try it!

side view of plum cake and spoon with light falling on to it

Antique silver Russian spoon from the early 20th century. With many thanks to The Collector.

Upside Down Plum Cake


1/2 cup (110g) + 1 Tbs butter (+ a bit more for greasing pan)
5-7 ripe but firm plums (it’s a good idea to have a couple extra on hand)
1/4 cup + 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter an 8 or 9 inch cake pan and line it with grease proof paper. If you’re using a springform pan cut the paper into a slightly larger circle so it goes up the sides a little. There will be juices and syrup at the bottom of the pan which might leak. Trust me.
  2. Stone the plums and cut each one into 8 wedges. If you have some mushy ones just pinch the skin (it should fall off) and put the gooey bits to one side.
  3. Melt the one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add the plum pieces and 1/4 cup sugar, and cook till the sugar melts and the juices turn to syrup, stirring and tossing frequently. This should take about 3-4 minutes, maybe longer. Add the mushy bits towards the end, so they can soak up some of the sweetness from the syrup.
  4. Put the plum pieces into the cake pan, shaping them into concentric circles (a new word for me that – hey, I did know the Greek one). Pour the juice from the pan over the top.
  5. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Use a whisk to mix them up (this is a great way to avoid sifting, which is a pain). Set aside.
  6. In a medium sized bowl, beat the 1/2 cup butter with the 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, at least 3-5 minutes. Beat in the egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and keep beating (on low!) but only until it’s mixed in, don’t overbeat it. There shouldn’t be any floury bits.
  7. Pour the batter over the plums. Now, it may seem like there’s very little batter, or that it’s too thick. It certainly did to me. It’s at this point that I thought it was going to be a disaster. Luckily I didn’t chuck it all in the bin; I just gently spread the batter out with a spatula so that it reached the sides of the pan. Be careful you don’t disturb the plums underneath.
  8. Bake until a cake tester, aka toothpick, comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. If it starts browning early, cover it with a piece of tin foil (mine did).
  9. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about an hour. Cover the pan with a large plate and flip over so that the cake falls on the plate with the plum side up. Gently peel off the grease proof paper and admire your work!
  10. Quickly make a cuppa and sample a piece. Just so you know whether you’re going to share it.

Close up of the pretty purple colour on the top of the plum cake
Other interesting cakes with fruit (and one veg!)
Peach Cobbler Upside Down Cake, by Apron Strings Blog
Crackly Banana Bread, by Smitten Kitchen
The Perfect Apple Cake, a Community Pick on Food52
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, by Susan Branch
Sweet Zucchini Bread, by On Top Of Spaghetti (that’s me!)