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!
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!