Life has been pretty hectic the past few weeks, what with all the crazy weather (tornado in Brooklyn!), promoting the new book, rebuilding our dilapidated deck, and now hubby has left for 5 days to see his mother in Denver. I don't mind admitting, I've been feeling pretty upside-down. Which makes me think of cake.
So a few weeks ago, I came up with these upside down apple muffins for the Times column, but today I really wanted to bake a whole cake so I wouldn't have to scrub out 12 muffin tins. Last month, I did a riff of of this recipe for Honey-Glazed Pear Upside-Down Cake using some gorgeous farmers market plums. It wasn't bad (and we ate the whole thing in about 5 minutes), but was just a tad richer and heavier than what I was looking for today.
Using the last of the weekend market plum haul I decided to re-do the recipe, this time subbing in a lighter cornmeal cake for the butter cake. I thought it would make a fantastic dessert when served with softly whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream, but the wholesome vibe of the cornmeal also made it perfect for breakfast or tea time.
Plum Polenta Upside Down Cake
Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
1 3/4 pounds plums, rinsed, pitted, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream or ice cream for serving, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9-inch Springform pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment and pan well.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the plums and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar, stirring occasionally, until the plums are tender and the liquid begins to reduce, about 20 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and the remaining 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one a time and beat to combine. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.
5. Use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients. Scrape the batter on top of the plums and smooth with a spatula. Bake until the cake is golden and springs back when touched lightly, 45 to 50 minutes.
6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold the sides and invert onto a plate. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.
Yield: 8 servings