Sunday, July 29, 2012

Plum Delicious

Dessert tends to get short-changed on Eats of Eden. It's all, OOH! LOOK AT THIS SIDE DISH!! or BEST ENTREE EVER!! To be honest, I don't make much dessert. Not that I don't love to bake, or that rich, sweet goodness isn't something I crave. But for one thing, dessert is hard to do 5 nights out of 7. It's hard enough to get dinner on the table getting off work at 5, let alone some after-meal extras. My mom used to simplify dessert and give us little dishes of applesauce with cookies or canned peaches for us, but I never think ahead that far. Along with that, I like being able to fit into my pants. Cakes and pies don't help with that cause.

"Oh but Tabitha, you could do some low-fat/sugar-free/low lactose baking..."

Yeah. And I could also gnaw on a piece of cardboard I drew a picture of a cupcake on. If I am going to take the time and the calorie hit to make and eat dessert, I want it to be as delicious and well-textured as possible.

This time of year is one of the best to make dessert. Even though the oven switches on, there are so many beautiful ingredients in rich bounty: get a pie craving in October and you'll end up paying $8 a pound for anemic cherries. Right now I'm in between what I'd like to can: the cherry pie filing and jams are already sealed up and in the garage, and it will be a few weeks before peaches and cucumbers will be in full swing. Raspberries are in their prime this weekend, so I went on Martha Stewart's website to flip through her seasonal slide show for ideas. It was here I found something I drool over every summer but have yet to make: upside-down cake. I've never been able to make it in the past because I didn't have an awesome springform pan (thanks, Annie!!). I sent Matt a grocery list (he decided to go to work Saturday, stupid overachiever), and he came back with dusky black plums, peak raspberries and a little box of blueberries.

"I thought they'd go good with what you've got going on," he said. And they were on sale. Nope, off-book from Martha's recipe, but I liked where his head was at. The fresh fruit was arranged over a caramelize-creating brown sugar top, and a simple batter was spread on top. I was sure to get a picture of the pretty fruit arrangement before the sloppy batter got in the wa, because some things, while delicious, are not so Pinteresting.

The cake baked while Matt prepped the smoker for Round Two, which our friends Brandon and Stephanie came by to help us devour. They also were around to take a good chunk of this cake which, while fresh and not overly-sweet, is sure not to keep long as a leftover in the refrigerator before getting soggy. This is a great recipe for sharing: or for those moments when you want to devour an entire cake by yourself. No judgment here. We also topped it with Cool Whip Lite, which I would also ask you not to judge me for (I didn't want to whip cream, okay? By the time the cake was in the oven, it was wine time! Pinot rose...).

The tartness of the raspberries and plums was the perfect foil to the sweet, buttery-light cake. A delicious collection of the best of this summer's moment. Somewhere between first-of-the-season peas and last-hurrah squashes, the end of July remains bittersweet.

Plum-Raspberry (and blueberry!) Upside Down Cake
from Martha Stewart Food

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 6 medium plums, halved and pitted
  • 1/2 pint raspberries (you can add an additional 1/2 cup blueberries to help fill in with the raspberries if you'd like)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a round 8 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch springform pan; line with parchment paper. Melt 2 tablespoons butter; pour into pan. Using a sieve, sprinkle light-brown sugar evenly over the melted butter. Arrange plum halves cut side down on top of the brown sugar, squeezing in as many plums as possible to allow for shrinkage during baking. Fill in the gaps with raspberries; set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour mixture, and beat until combined. Beat in the sour cream. Beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  3. Spoon cake batter on top of plums and raspberries, spreading evenly with a small spatula. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any juices; transfer to the oven, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake. Remove ring; invert onto a serving plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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