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Milk Street Bowtie Upside-Down Cardamom-Spiced Plum Cake

Upside-Down Cardamom-Spiced Plum Cake

Makes one 8½-inch loaf cake

1½ hours 35 minutes active, plus cooling

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Claire Ptak, proprietor of Violet Cakes, taught us a trio of simple but sumptuous loaf cakes during a recent visit to her bakery-café in East London. This one, an upside-down affair, features a caramelly layer of sliced fruit that becomes syrupy and supple with baking, and a sturdy, buttery cake made with almond and rye flours (but no wheat flour). Sweetened with brown sugar and aromatic with cardamom and grated orange zest, the dark, moist crumb is more akin to steamed pudding than a light, delicate cake. Ptak used fresh figs, but since figs are highly seasonal, we used plums instead. For an autumnal dessert, pears work beautifully, too; use two ripe but firm small pears (5 to 6 ounces each), peeled, halved, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick. An 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan is best; if baked in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, the cake will sink in the center and also is rather squat. If you like, serve slices dolloped with crème fraîche, which complements the fruity, molasses-y notes with cool, creamy, tangy richness. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days.

Makes one

8½-inch loaf cake

Tip

Don’t skip the step of lining the loaf pan with parchment. The parchment ensures that the cake will invert easily out of the pan and that the fruit layer won’t stick.

1½ hours

35 minutes active, plus cooling

42 grams (3 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 3 pieces
145 grams (⅔ cup) packed light brown sugar
2 ripe but firm medium plums (about 5 ounces each), halved, pitted and sliced ¼ inch thick
Pinch table salt
125 grams (1 ¼ cups) almond flour
105 grams (¾ cup plus) rye flour
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
218 grams (1 cup) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
183 grams (13 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
For the caramel-plum layer
  • 42

    grams (3 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 3 pieces

  • 145

    grams (⅔ cup) packed light brown sugar

  • 2

    ripe but firm medium plums (about 5 ounces each), halved, pitted and sliced ¼ inch thick

  • Pinch table salt

For the cake
  • 125

    grams (1 ¼ cups) almond flour

  • 105

    grams (¾ cup plus) rye flour

  • 2

    teaspoons ground cardamom

  • 1

    teaspoon baking powder

  • ½

    teaspoon baking soda

  • teaspoon table salt

  • 2

    large eggs, room temperature

  • 2

    teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 218

    grams (1 cup) packed light brown sugar

  • 2

    teaspoons grated orange zest

  • 183

    grams (13 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature

Directions

Upside-Down Cardamom-Spiced Plum Cake

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Reviews
Leslie L.
November 13, 2023
Lovely, Nuanced Flavors
My friends loved this cake - not too sweet and interesting flavors. I used thinly sliced Granny Smith apples since plums were out of season and substituted whipped cream for the topping.
Janet M.
January 15, 2024
Amazing flavors! Great “hygge” cozy dessert
Made this last night when we hosted my daughter and son-in-law. Couldn’t find plums so made it with fresh pears and a few dried small figs. Since my daughter tries to limit her gluten intake, I subbed out half the rye flour with an Ancient Grain GF blend. It was fabulous! Also added a little maple syrup to the butter/brown sugar base which gave it a wonderful crumb and texture. Can’t wait to make it again, maybe with plums and/or apricots next time!
Micaela J.
December 23, 2023
Fantastic
Husband never had a reaction to my cooking or baking like the one he had when he tasted this cake.
Jim M.
November 10, 2023
Amazing!
A neighbor has come for dinner weekly for more than 3 years, and the leftover dessert generally goes home with her. This is the one recipe she reminds me of, commenting on how good it was and how well it kept. High praise indeed! I'm going to try it with pears soon.
Lorene S.
October 27, 2023
Fabulous!
Because I'm allergic to wheat and not rye, I made this cake as soon as I saw it. And loved it. However, when I used my 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 pan it overflowed the pan. The taste was amazing though, so I made it again in a 9 by 5 pan and it worked beautifully.