Friday, August 28, 2009

Plum Ginger Upside-Down Cake

I absolutely love the combination of ginger and plums. And although we often think of ginger cakes and gingerbreads as pastry reserved for the fall and holidays, this cake is very easily enjoyed now when we have so many wonderful plums at our fingertips.

This particular cake recipe comes from Leslie Mackie and Macrina, her bakery in Seattle. In contrast to the darker, heavier and spicier ginger cakes of the fall season, this one is simple, light, supremely moist and extremely delicious. It’s perfect for these transitional days as we move from the long summer laziness of August to the brisk winds of activity in September.

Bench notes:
- I cut the cake portion of the recipe in half because I wanted a greater ratio of fruit to cake. Double it if you want more cake and use 3 whole eggs. The original recipe calls for pears but recommends the substitution of ripe plums, nectarines or apples. I also threw in a few fresh raspberries.
- Putting a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan will help keep all the fruit in tact when you turn out the cake.
- The cake bakes slowly at a low temperature to create a wonderful brown sugar caramelization with the fruit. Since ovens vary so broadly, check the cake at 1 hour.

Plum Ginger Upside-Down Cake

adapted from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook
serves 10

For the topping

3 T unsalted butter @ room temperature
1/2 C light brown sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
4-5 medium to large ripe plums

For the cake

4 oz unsalted butter @ room temperature
1/4 C + 2 T light brown sugar
1 T peeled, grated ginger
1 egg + 1 yolk
1/3 C molasses
1 1/2 C flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 C buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Oil a 9" springform pan and line the bottom with a 10" circle of parchment paper. You want a bit of the paper to come up the side of the pan.

Cut the plums into 1/2" slices. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon over medium heat for about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan, completely coating the parchment paper. Place the sliced plums on top of the butter-sugar mixture in overlapping circles so that none of the bottom of the pan shows through.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and pale. Add the grated ginger and beat 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating on low speed and making sure that each egg is fully incorporated. Slowly pour in the molasses and mix thoroughly. The mixture will look like it’s breaking but it will come together when the dry ingredients are added.

Alternately add a third of the flour mixture and half the buttermilk to the batter, starting and ending with the flour. Finish the mixing by folding with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are just absorbed. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the plum-lined pan and level the surface.

Bake for about 1 hour - 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake and release the sides of the springform pan. Cover the cake with a serving platter and carefully invert. Lift the bottom of the pan off the cake and gently peel away the parchment paper.


Valérie-jeanne said...

This looks great. I love the rustic, fruit desserts you make for us. I will try this recipe, plum desserts are my favorites. The plum is so overlooked in baking, I think. I've been making a lot of plum strudels this summer. Thanks again for another beautiful post.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Wow, how incredible is that?

Heather said...

This looks really nice. The texture of the gingerbread is perfect.

Diana H said...

This cake looks like a work of art! Just beautiful.

Barbara said...

That looks divine. I like the molasses in it- makes the batter dark along with those deep purple plums. Can't wait to try this!

Mimi said...

Wow. The combination of raspberries and plums looks so delicious. All that and gingerbread cake too! Yum!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about the baking time? I made your recipe today, set the oven for 325 as instructed, correct size pan, etc. etc., checked the cake at 1 hour and it was almost done! I decided to only go another 30 minutes rather than the 45 you recommend. Good thing I then checked after 15 minutes, because the tester came out perfectly clean. Turned the cake out, it appears to be perfectly done. Haven't tasted it yet, but I'm quite sure 1 hr. 45 minutes is *way* too much.

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, yes you're right. The original instructions call for 1 hour and 45 minutes and I think I was looking at the wrong notes when writing because I cut the recipe in half. It should read about 1 hour and 15 minutes and I've corrected it. Thanks so much for commenting. I apologize for the inconvenience and I hope you enjoy the cake!

Anonymous said...

The cake is excellent, thanks. Actually, given the liberties I took with the recipe, an hour or an hour and five minutes might have been fine.

I don't keep buttermilk around, so I have to admit I used kefir instead. I believe it's somewhat thicker, so overall the batter was probably less moist and baked up faster than your version.

Next time I do it I might thin the kefir with regular milk and/or add a bit of orange juice. What do you think?

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, I hesitate to recommend things I haven't tested myself. You can take 3/4 cup of milk and add
2 1/4 teaspoons of lemon juice and that will work as a substitute for buttermilk. I've also substituted equal amounts of yogurt or sour cream with good results. I've had kefir before but I've never baked with it, but I know that others do tout it "as is" as a good substitute for buttermilk.

Emily said...

I just made this cake last night and it turned out AMAZING. I only had to bake it for about an hour though. I have a gigantic monster plum tree in my back yard and I am trying to figure out what to do with all the plums. This turned out to be an excellent use. Thank you!

pastry studio said...

Emily, thanks very much for the info on baking time. I'm so glad you enjoyed the cake. I'm really happy about converting people to the combination of plums and ginger!

Thought Press said...

My grandma really enjoyed the cake. It's really something to share.