Recipe of the Week: Italian Plum Upside Down Cake
Take advantage of the wonderful flavor of fresh summer fruit with this scrumptious dessert. I love making it and enjoying a slice of it with a steaming cup of coffee. A versatile dessert that can be made with any variety of fresh fruit: peaches, mango, pineapples and cherries. Easy to make, it requires only a few ingredients usually readily found in your pantry. Serves eight. (Chef tip: Toss fresh fruit with a little lemon juice to prevent it from browning.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
3/4 cup light brown sugar
8 ounces fresh Italian plums, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and pulverized
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350F, and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with non-stick vegetable spray) a nine-inch round cake pan with three-inch sides.
Place butter and brown sugar in a small sauce pan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring, for a few more minutes or until bubbles just start to appear around the outside edges of the mixture. (The sugar will start to caramelize.) Remove from heat and pour into the prepared cake pan. Evenly arrange the fresh plum slices on top of the sugar mixture.
In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add flour mixture, in three even portions, alternately with the milk, a quarter cup at a time and the almond powder, finishing with the dry ingredients.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the white hold a firm peak. With a large spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until the top of the cake has browned and starts to pull away from the side of the pan; a toothpick inserted into the cake, not the plum, will come out clean.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake on to a serving plate. Serve warm.