Upside Down Buttermilk Plum Cake / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK I’m plum crazy about this cake. It’s plum delicious. Plum pretty, too. The recipe is a riff on one that my sister-in-law, pastry chef, Alison Sullivan, developed for a story I wrote for the San Jose Mercury News. I’ve made it half a dozen times since. The original is nothing short of plum perfect.

I pulled out the recipe a few weeks ago when a bundle of juicy plums showed up in my CSA box. When I started gathering ingredients, I found myself looking at the cake with a different set of eyes. It had more sugar and butter than I remembered and none of the whole grain flours which I’ve grown accustomed to using. So I tinkerered, scaling back the sugar and butter, using whole grain flour, swapping almond meal for some of the wheat flour, and simplifying the method. All of this adds up to an upside down plum cake that may not be as rich and buttery as the original, yet it remains undeniably delicious and lovely to look at.

Upside Down Buttermilk Plum Cake / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK

Brown sugar-sweetened plums crown a tender moist cake that can stand on its own, but is excellent served with a spoonful of vanilla frozen yogurt, ice cream, or whipped cream. Even better, in my opinion, is to eat it Day Two for breakfast along with a side of plain Greek yogurt (and perhaps a side of your morning coffee).

If you’ve never attempted an upside down cake, no need for intimidation. Here are a few tips:

Upside Down Buttermilk Plum Cake / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK

Halve the plums with a paring knife and pop out the pits. If they’re a little stubborn, use the tip of your knife to cut them out.


Warm the butter and brown sugar right in the cake pan set directly on the stove top until they melt together and look something like this.

Upside Down Buttermilk Plum Cake / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK

Nestle the plum halves cut-side-down right into the brown sugar/butter, covering the surface of the pan. The number of plums will vary based on their size.

Upside Down Buttermilk Plum Cake / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK

Cool the cake completely in the pan. Then, set a plate on top and quickly flip it over. Lift the cake pan to reveal  your pretty confection. Do your best to wait for dessert.


Or follow my fine example and don’t wait. Not one single second. You have my permission.

(P.S. if you have leftover plums, check this line-up of inspired recipe ideas from Cooking Light. Plum Bellini anyone?)

(P.P.S. Special thanks to my friend Pam Rupright, an excellent baker who tested this recipe and helped make it a better one).

Upside Down Buttermilk Plum Cake / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK




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  1. Pam H
    07.01.2014 at 8:33 AM #

    looks amazing!

    • katiemorford
      07.01.2014 at 2:24 PM #

      Thanks….yummy, too!

  2. Pam R
    07.01.2014 at 3:22 PM #

    Thanks for the testing opportunity! Such a delicious cake, we will keep taste testing it for years to come.

    • katiemorford
      07.03.2014 at 3:07 PM #

      Appreciate the help and the endorsement!

  3. 07.13.2014 at 9:02 AM #

    Oh Katie this is so beautiful! I can’t get enough of all this gorgeous produce!

    • katiemorford
      07.13.2014 at 11:01 AM #

      Me too! I think plums get overlooked sometimes for baking and jam and they are so delicious when cooked.

  4. John
    05.15.2015 at 6:05 PM #

    what temperature for the oven?

    • katiemorford
      05.15.2015 at 7:16 PM #

      350 degrees F. Just added it to the recipe and thank you for bringing that to my attention!

  5. 06.09.2015 at 8:28 AM #

    I adore plums. Jealous that you got them in your CSA basket. Here in New England, we don’t have local stone fruit yet. Can’t wait! This cake is too pretty not to pin :)

    • katiemorford
      06.09.2015 at 8:37 AM #

      We are spoiled with early EVERYTHING in California. But we don’t get beach plums :)

  6. 06.09.2015 at 11:36 AM #

    I haven’t gotten my hands on any plums yet this season, but my o my, I will 😉

  7. 06.09.2015 at 4:53 PM #

    SO pretty! I haven’t had any plums yet, anxiously awaiting their arrival! Pinned and can’t wait to try this :)

    • katiemorford
      06.10.2015 at 6:42 AM #

      Oh good. Thanks Anne.

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