Yellow Plum, Walnut, Almond Upside-Down Cake

Brendan's Yellow Plum, Walnut, Almond Upside-Down CakeIngredients


  • 150g (5½oz) butter
  • 150g (5½oz) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract + 3 drops of bitter almond essence
  • 200g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder, sifted
  • 125ml (4fl oz) full-fat milk

Caramel Topping

  • 125g (4½oz) caster sugar
  • 75ml (2¾fl oz) liquid – juice of 1 large lemon made up with water
  • 50g (1¾oz) butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 fresh, firm yellow plums halved and stoned + three sliced in segments (the ‘ripen at home’ gives good, firm fruit. Ripe plums collapse too much and spoil the finished look)
  • 16 – dried tart, sour cherries (one to go into each plum half) or stoned dried black cherries
  • 24 walnut halves – not pieces
  • 30ml (1fl oz) runny honey – for glazing while cake is cooling (optional)


Turn oven on to 180ᵒc/350F/Gas4, and place rack in middle.

Next, prepare the tin: grease bottom and sides of a standard, 23cm (9 inch) tin with Trex or Cookeen (butter will be too oily for this recipe). Place same-size circle of non-stick parchment paper in base, and set aside. (Do not use a loose-bottomed cake tin as caramel will escape).

Now, make the caramel. Put the sugar and water into a small, non-stick pan and bring to the boil, stirring gently and briefly to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture turns to a golden/mid-amber caramel, take the pan off the heat and add the butter. Only stir once butter has melted.

Pour the caramel straight away into the prepared tin and set aside. The caramel will set but will melt again during the cooking of the cake. Around the edge of the tin, place a row of pecans or walnuts. Halve and stone plums and push one cherry into the plum cavity and place close together, cut-side down. Place the segmented plum slices into the gaps so that little caramel is showing through. You now have the base completely covered with plums surrounded by a single row of nuts.

Using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in a medium-sized bowl– 4 mins on medium-speed -, then add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition (add a couple of tablespoons of flour if the mixture starts to curdle. This shouldn’t happen if the eggs are at room temperature, but the flour will restore the mixture).

Add the vanilla, then the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, until everything is incorporated. Spoon this on top of the fruit and spread evenly to edges of tin, being careful not to disturb the arrangement. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 – 45 minutes – check for doness at 40 minutes. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Remove from oven and wait 5 minutes before turning it out onto its serving plate. By this time it will have shrunk from the sides. Give the tin a slight shake to loosen it, and expect to see some plums and nuts left stuck to the tin bottom. But they are easily removed with a dessertspoon, so carefully put them back into their place on top of the cake. As the cake cools, the caramel will reset and glue them back together.

If you decide to use the honey, just heat it gently for 30 seconds to make it easier to apply with a pastry brush. Leave cake to cool and serve. I only use the honey to restore the glaze if there is still some left after 2 days.


The tartness of the cherries and plums are a good contrast to the sweetness of the caramel. The ring of walnuts adds considerably to the look of the cake and gives a neat edge, and caramelised walnuts are delicious. Pecans make a good alternative, as do whole, unskinned almonds. Plums can be replaced with apricots when in season.


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