Plum-Ginger Upside-Down Cake

plum-ginger upside-down cake

How do you know when someone is a true friend? I suppose there are lots of ways, but here’s one that worked for me last week: I showed up at my friends Erika and Roger’s house for lunch with this plum-ginger upside-down cake in one hand and my camera in the other. They didn’t bat an eye when I said I wanted to get a photo of a slice of the cake once we cut into it. They didn’t say, “Susan, you are a pathetic dork.” They didn’t say, “Put the damn camera down and let us eat our dessert.” They didn’t say, “What do we look like, Olan Mills?” Just, “Which would you prefer, a white plate or a patterned one?” And on top of that, Erika let me win at Upwords. You guys are the best.

I bought the plums with the idea of making some sort of upside-down cake, but I was prepared to have to search for a recipe. As luck would have it, Mimi (Delectable Tidbits) posted a lovely fig upside-down cake that very day, and it proved to be the perfect starting point for my cake. I replaced the figs with plums, added some crystallized ginger to the dough (yes, it’s really more dough than batter, which of course suits me just fine), and scaled it to a 7-1/4-inch size. Now this is my kind of cake: rustic, fruity, swarthy (as Mimi put it), dense and moist. Mimi, you’re the best too.


Plum-Ginger Upside-Down Cake

Yield: one 7-inch cake


  • Mix: 15 minutes
  • Bake: 30 minutes

Dough Ingredients:

  • 130 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 g (1/3 t.) baking soda
  • 1.6 g (1/3 t.) baking powder
  • 1 g (1/6 t.) salt
  • 75 g unsalted butter
  • 48 g egg (one egg)
  • 112 g honey
  • 38 g plain yogurt
  • 83 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • 2/3 t. vanilla extract
  • 32 g finely chopped crystallized ginger

Topping Ingredients:

  • 3 firm plums, cut into 1/3-inch-thick half-moons
  • 60 g brown sugar
  • 57 g unsalted butter
  • 2/3 t. cinnamon
  • 1/3 t. ground ginger


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture has the consistency of coarse sand.
  3. In another bowl, combine the egg, honey, yogurt, starter, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients and the crystallized ginger to the dry ingredients, mixing just until everything is incorporated.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  6. Butter a 7.25-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a 9-inch circle of parchment (the parchment will come up the sides a bit.
  7. In a small saucepan, combine the topping ingredients (except plums) and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted, then for another 2 minutes.
  8. Pour the syrup into the parchment-lined pan. Arrange the plum slices in the pan over the syrup.
  9. Spoon the dough and spread it evenly over the plums. It is easier to ensure that the dough reaches to the sides of the pan if you spoon it around the perimeter and spread inward rather than the other way around.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick emerges clean.
  11. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then loosen the springform, invert the cake onto a plate, and carefully peel away the parchment.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Beautiful cake. I really enjoyed reading the first paragraph. It felt like you’re writing about me (=pathetic dork . . . ;-) ). I do talk with my friends about my baking a lot and they even get ocasionally a loaf or two as well, but I still feel somewhat uncomfortable when they come over for dinner – I baked some bread – and I n e e d to take pictures of the crumb. Fortunately, my family is by now used to it and waits calmly until “dinner is ready”. They know that’s the price to pay ;-)

    The last time when I had guests over, I excused myself with the loaf and went to the cellar where we’ve got a excellent bread slicing machine. Of course I placed my camera there before. I think they didn’t notice that it took me somewhat longer.

    We all are pathetic dorks. Nerds, geeks. Whatever. I like it!


  2. says

    Looks like a splendid cake, and I just got plums from friends. Thing is, I hate to be a weenie, but I haven’t got the starter and, frankly, won’t be getting around to producing it just now. Can you possibly provide a work-around of some sort, either a substitute or an adjustment of, say, the flour quantity to make up for it? Although the cake won’t be quite as good or interesting, I’m sure it’ll work out nicely.

  3. says

    Yum! I’ve never cooked with figs, so that is almost the more tempting of the fruit choices…

    Plain or patterned? I’ll bring them food anytime. =)

  4. says

    Too funny! My husband has gotten used to me cutting slices and taking pictures or, if it isn’t time for dessert yet, cutting a slice, taking the photo then sliding the slice back in place.

    This is my kind of cake, so dense and luscious looking. And love plums! Beautiful!

  5. Erika says

    Ha! Susan, you arrived with a most scrumptious cake that was absolutely worthy of a photo!! AND..we got to eat the slice–and then even more slices!! YOU are the best! (and as for Upwords, I would never purposely let someone win a game with me–my competitive brain tried as hard as it could–hmm, what DID you put in that cake besides ginger?)
    Thank you for the tasty treat–and please, come again anytime! :-)

  6. says

    Barry, I’ve not tried this any other way than with starter, so you’ll have to experiment here. As a place to start, the starter contributes about 24 grams each of flour and water to the dough. Therefore if you leave out the starter you could add these amounts of flour and water. However, the starter also contributes somewhat to leavening by providing acidity that reacts with the baking soda, as well as the yeast itself. This is where you’ll have to experiment to determine how you should adjust the baking soda and/or powder to get the leavening you want. I’m sorry, I just don’t have enough experience with cakes to guide you here. Happy experimenting!

  7. Elizabeth says

    I just made this cake over the weekend and it was delicious! I did everything in my power to screw it up royally (using buttermilk instead of yogurt and, more importantly, using a 10″ cake pan instead of the 7.5″ it was designed for) but it still came out great. You really saved the day here. I was missing some ingredients for the bread I had planned to bake and was looking to either use the ripe starter in something else or give up on the bread and use up some fresh prunes I had sitting around. Overwhelmed in a flood of possibilities, I turned to your site to see what was new and lo and behold you solved all of my problems at once!

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