Toffee-topped popular plum upside-down cake

Is a ripe plum
Growing on a purple tree.
Taste it once
And the spell of its enchantment
Will never let you be.”

Langston Hughes, from Love Song for Lucinda

A friend has a glut of plums, and I am only too delighted to help her out. This is one of the things I do with them, and it’s always popular. It’s simple, but it looks the business.

You can make this ahead of time, turn out, and then reheat – but grate the orange zest over at the last minute.


Recipe for toffee-topped popular plum upside-down cake

Serves 6


  • • 150g/ butter
  • 100g/½ cup soft brown sugar, plus 4 generous tablespoons, and 1 tsp extra
  • 2 dark plums
  • 1 large egg, or 2 small ones
  • 110g/1cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • zest of an orange
  • 300 ml/1¼ cups whipping cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Put 50g (couple of walnuts) of the butter into a smallish (about 18cm/7”) shallow cake tin, put in the oven for a minute or two, and when melted remove and swirl around the bottom.
  3. Sprinkle over about four tablespoons of soft, brown sugar.
  4. Take the stone out of the plums, halve, and slice quite thinly. Arrange artistically over the bottom of the cake tin, as in the image below.
  5. Using an electric mixer, mix together the rest of the butter, the sugar, the egg, the flour, the baking powder, and half a tsp of vanilla paste. Don’t bother to wash up the bowl or the mixer.
  6. Pour over the plum mixture. Bake for about half an hour.
  7. In the same mixing bowl you used for the cake mixture, whip the cream loosely, together with another half tsp of vanilla paste, and a teaspoon of sugar.
  8. Take the cake out of the oven, and IMMEDIATELY turn it out, upside down, onto its final serving plate. If you don’t do this immediately the cake tends to get stuck. At this stage you can leave to cool and set aside until later.
  9. Scatter over the orange zest, and serve, warm, with the whipped cream.


plum upside-down cake recipe
Arrange the plums artistically over the bottom of the tin.


upside down plum cake recipe


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