Monroe reader Mary Huber's request a couple of months ago for a prune upside-down cake like the one her mother made generated a nice array of different takes on this dessert.
Happily, this same request also netted us a pair of wowser fresh plum cakes, so let's thank Everett cook Karen Hume for sharing this little windfall with us.
The first recipe is made, believe it or not, in a saute pan. It calls for red plums but you can successfully substitute apples, pears or chunks of pineapple for the plums.
The second cake specifies Italian prunes or plums, but you might be able to pull a daring switcheroo on them, too. Karen has had this specialty in her collection since 1986 and tells us, "This German recipe is from my friend, Carol Koepke of Normandy Park. It was passed down to her by her mother."
Saute pan plum upside-down cake
2 red plums, cut lengthwise in equal halves to remove pit
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, not vanilla flavoring
1 lemon, zested and juiced, zest minced
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
Ice cream or whipped cream
Cut plum halves into 1/2-inch wedges; set aside. Heat the 1 tablespoon butter and granulated sugar in medium-size ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat. As sugar begins to brown, add the plum slices. Arrange attractively, as this will become the top of the cake. Cook until all liquid evaporates and the plum edges begin to caramelize, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Combine remaining butter and brown sugar in mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With mixer running, add eggs, 1 at a time. Periodically stop mixer to scrape down sides of the bowl as needed. Add Grand Marnier, vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
In separate bowl, mix together thoroughly the flour, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture and mix just until a smooth batter is formed. Do not overmix. Pour batter over caramelized plums and smooth surface with a spatula.
Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding: Cover saute pan with a large serving plate (be sure to use a plate that will withstand the heat of the hot caramel syrup) and carefully turn cake over onto the plate. Carefully remove the pan without disturbing plums.
Let cool completely before cutting into wedges.
Serve as is or topped with ice cream or whipped cream.
German plum cake
3/4 pound fresh Italian prunes or plums
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
Mixture of cinnamon and sugar
Butter to dot top
Quarter fruit, removing pits; set aside. In mixing bowl, mix together butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and milk to make a smooth batter.
Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan; pour in batter. Sprinkle with a little of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cover with fruit, skin side down, next to each other. Dot with butter and sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes, then check to see if done; if not, bake up to 10 additional minutes, checking after the first 5 minutes.
Makes one 9-inch pan.
The next column will appear in Wednesday's Good Life section.
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