Unpretentious, homey, rustic, yummy…
Upside-Down Polenta Plum Cake is a concoction without affectation but plenty of taste thanks to caramelized fruit and just enough crunch from cornmeal to complete the caky texture
By Louise Crosby
Let me say right off the bat that I’m not that fond of fancy cakes layered with fillings and covered in sweet icing. Nor am I mad passionate crazy about chocolate, in a cake or otherwise. I prefer plain, simple buttery cakes fragrant with vanilla or citrus or spice, possibly containing poppy seeds, nuts or fruit, possibly with a nice caramel glaze. Unpretentious, homey, rustic, delicious.
This Upside-Down Polenta Plum Cake, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now, is one such cake. A batter with a touch of crunchy corn meal is spooned over a syrupy plum compote, then baked to saturate the two layers together into a kind of pudding cake deliciousness. Once out of the oven and cooled slightly, it is flipped over onto a plate, a thick jammy layer of caramelized plums blanketing the pretty yellow cake below. It is best served warm topped with whipped cream.
So without further ado, here’s the recipe. Make it soon before all those ripe, juicy plums now available at farmers markets disappear. But even if plums do go out of season, keep in mind that any fruit, frozen or not, and in any creative combination, will work here.
Upside-Down Polenta Plum Cake
1¾ pounds plums, rinsed, pitted, and sliced ½ inch thick
1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fine cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
⅓ cup sour cream or plain whole milk yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment and pan well.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the plums, ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until the plums are tender and the liquid begins to reduce, about 20 minutes. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the remaining 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to combine. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.
Use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients. Scrape the batter on top of the plums and smooth with a spatula. Bake until the cake is golden and springs back when touched lightly, 45 to 55 minutes or more.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan 10 minutes, then unfold the sides and invert onto a plate. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.