Southwestern-Style Recipes: Skillet Cake with Plums

Using an iron skillet gives this old-fashioned cake a golden-brown, succulent crust.

| September/October 2003

  • Fresh plum develops a deep, rich character in this old-fashioned upside-down cake.
    Photo By Joe Coca

Skillet Cake with Plums
Makes a 10-inch cake, 8 to 12 slices 

Although you can bake this cake in a conventional cake pan, using an iron skillet gives it a golden-brown, succulent crust. The tang of the buttermilk offers a nice counterpoint to the sweet, juicy fruit. End-of-the-season peaches, nectarines, apricots or fresh figs are delicious in this recipe.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 firm, ripe plums such as Santa Rosa or Red Ace, pitted and sliced into eighths (or 12 prune, greengage, or Damson plums, sliced into quarters or halves)
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 generous teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Heat 6 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch iron skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Add the brown sugar and stir until it turns to thick syrup. Continue to cook until the mixture just starts to bubble, then promptly remove from heat.

3. Arrange plum slices close together in a single layer on the butter and sugar. If you have extra slices, place them around the edge of the skillet or reserve for another use.

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