This is one of my favourite times of year to visit Edinburgh Farmers’ Market; September marks such an abundant time for seasonal produce and the range of delicious local ingredients is at its peak. I was lucky enough to get my hands on some damsons there recently: the small, sour plums are actually a member of the rose family and are ideal for making jams, jellies and puds. Their only downside is that they’re a bit of a pain to pit – however, I realised accidentally-on-purpose that if you freeze them and then remove the stones once they have partially defrosted, it’s much easier. In this damson upside-down cake, they make a wonderfully fruity, caramelised topping that complements the lightly spiced sponge; a perfect early Autumn pudding that would be delicious served warm with fresh custard. To make the cake (via chef Monica Shaw), you will need:
140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g light brown sugar
15 damsons, or other plums, halved and destined
small handful blackberries, or blueberries (optional)
125g self-raising flour
40g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
85g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
crème fraîche, whipped cream or ice cream, to serve.
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C Fan/ Gas 4. Place 55g of the butter in a 23cm oven-proof frying pan or cake tin. Place the pan in the oven and leave until the butter has melted. Remove the pan and swirl the butter around so it’s distributed evenly. Sprinkle over the brown sugar.
Lay the plums on top of the sugar in a single, tightly-packed layer, skin-side up. If you’d like, fill in any gaps with blackberries or blueberries (I had more damsons so just used them).
Now make the batter. Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the remaining butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light, then add the sugar and beat until creamy. Add the eggs, beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla and almond extract.
Add the milk and the rest of the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until just blended. Spoon the batter evenly over the plums. Bake until golden and a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (this will take 50-60 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.
Loosen the cake using a knife, then place a plate on top of the cake tin and invert the cake. Let it stand with the base of the tin still on for 5 minutes, then gently lift off. Serve the cake warm with whipped cream, crème fraîche, ice cream or custard.
What are you baking this weekend?