Cake demo disaster narrowly averted! Caramelised Plum Upsidedown Cake

Winter Warmers cookery demonstration The suspense was growing. There is an element of hope in cooking an upsidedown cake at the best of time but cooking one for a demonstration in front of 35 members of the Glenroe Ladies’ Club was, perhaps, asking for trouble. Throw in anirregularly used gas oven – I live in a world of electricity, rarely cooking on gas – and a demonstrator who, while distracted, managed to turn the oven off instead of up (ahem) and you’re adding a whole new layer of problems to the mix!

Normally I cook this cake at 180ºC, or Gas 4, but the oven was barely warmed to half that temperature by the time I was ready to put it in. What to do? Whack the oven up to Gas 8, leave the cake on top and get the nearest ladies to monitor the (hopefully) rising heat. It’s always convenient to have mother and a few relatives in the audience in these situations! After I landed the cake into the slightly warmed up oven, a cousin kept an eye on the timing and I crossed my fingers.

When it was cooked, taking about 50 minutes instead of the usual 30-35, I held my breath as I turned it out. When I gingerly lifted the cooking pan away from the cake it, amazingly enough, looked fantastic despite all the messing about. Looks are one thing but the real proof is in the eating and there wasn’t a crumb left to bring home. Enjoyable as it was, the evening wouldn’t have been half as much fun without the cliff hanger ending!

The cake recipe is below – if you don’t have an ovenproof frying pan, you can of course make this in a 25cm (10 inch) baking tin like these ones from The Kitchen Dresser.

Caramelised Plum Upsidedown Cake
Butter – 50g
Light Muscovado sugar – 125g
Plums – 600g, about 9 small plums, stoned and halved

Natural yoghurt – 250ml
Eggs – 2
Light Muscovado sugar – 225g
Sunflower oil – 125ml
Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
Plain flour – 300g
Baking powder – 2½ teaspoons
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Ground allspice – 1 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas 4).

Melt the butter in a ovenproof frying pan that is 25cm in diameter. Stir in 125g of the sugar and cook over a gentle heat for about 2 minutes until the sugar is melted. Place the plums carefully, cut side down, in a single layer on the caramel.

Place the yogurt, eggs, 225g Muscovado sugar, oil and vanilla into a large mixing bowl and whisk gently. Sift the flour, baking powder and allspice on top and mix together quickly but thoroughly. Take care not to overwork the mixture.

Pour the cake batter on top of the plums in the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is firm, golden brown and well risen.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 3 or 4 minutes. Place a serving plate on top of the pan. Quickly – but carefully because of the caramel mixture – turn plate and pan upside down and gently lift the pan off. Remove any stubborn plums from the base of the tin and set them in place on top of the cake.

Serve warm with yoghurt, cream or custard. Serves 6-8, depending on greed!



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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4 Responses

  1. Martin says:

    I know how you feel.My very first cookery demo, in Kilkenny, I made Choux Pastry and the wretched stuff turned out like scrambled egg.Never before or since…..Well I just started all over again and the ladies, of course, were delighted, to see the cocky man brought down to earth.The second attempt was a success, in fairness I think they were delighted that time too!

  2. Carina Markett says:

    Thanks for the link for a cake pan, as I have been stupidly making my upside down cakes in a springform pan, which leaks all the juices.

  3. Caroline says:

    Martin: I can just picture the situation! Things always go sideways when there’s pressure on. When I made this particular cake last Thursday, just to do a run through, it went horribly wrong. I don’t really know what happened. I made another the following day and, thankfully, things went well that time. I still hadn’t taken an uncooperative oven into consideration, though!Carina: I’ve done that too, with similar results. My springform tin has never been the same since the day that the Husband decided to scrub it with steel wool. Not only was the non-stick coating rendered useless, but his energetic washing also bent it out of shape!That tin isn’t the only thing that The Kitchen Dresser stocks – my eye was taken by the colourful sets of Joseph Joseph nesting bowls. Did you notice that there’s free delivery for orders over €30?

  4. Cian Connaughton says:

    Hi,Caroline. The cake looks yummy. What better way to enjoy it than with a nice cuppa – Bewley’s have launched a new all-new website, with a feast of new information on coffee and tea, an online shop, expert advice and top coffee making tips.

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