Almond-Spice Plum Upside Down Cake

As you can see, The Roaming Kitchen has a bit of a new look, thanks entirely to the Frenchman’s hard work and ingenuity. We’ll be making a few more cosmetic changes around here over the next few weeks. I’m really excited about what’s to come!

I thank you in advance for your patience as we work out the kinks. (And by that I mean, “Cris, be patient. Abstain from hurling your computer out your apartment window, just because it took you a gazillionty-one more hours than usual to format this post, and now you have no brain power left for the witty and devastatingly interesting headnote you’d planned to pen.)

Ah well. I’ll be clever next week. Also, I’ll share some fetching, non-food photos. In the meantime, I’m going to put down my computer and have a piece of cake. You should, too. I hope your weekend is full of seascapes and ripe tomatoes. Happy August!

plums in a basket

Plum Compote

In the fall and winter, I follow this recipe from Smitten Kitchen with apples and pears. I though, why not plums? Well, the water content is quite a bit higher, so plums don’t give you the same caramelization you’ll get with apples, but they do break down beautifully into a tart and buttery compote. Make a double batch, and use the rest on top of toast, stirred into oatmeal, spooned over yogurt, or as a summery ice cream topping. I thought about adding vanilla and/or bourbon to the pan, so there’s an idea for next time. And there will be a next time.

1 pound plums
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
Halve the plums. (I make one slice around the vertical equator, and then twist and pull the plum halves apart. Use a melon baller for easy pit removal.) Discard the pits.

Heat the butter and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves into the butter. Add the plums, skin side up.

Increase the heat to medium high. Let the butter and the sugar come to a vigorous boil. At the 10 minute mark, the plums should be fairly broken down; give them a few stirs. Let the fruit cook another 5 minutes, and then allow to cool.

halved plumscaramelized plums

Almond-Spice Cake

I based the bones of this recipe off of Nigel Slater’s A Cake for Midsummer, from his very excellent tome, Tender. (It should be noted, the original recipe is also wonderful.) If you don’t have golden baker’s sugar, use regular. Finally, the best way to grate fresh nutmeg? A microplane!


12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons golden baker’s sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup ground almonds
1 1/3 cup self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour your cake pan.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar in a large mixing bowl for about 5 minutes, until the combination is light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, blending until the egg is incorporated into the batter.

In a food processor, grind the almonds into dust. Move the almonds to a small bowl, along with the self-rising flour, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Give the dry ingredients a little whisk, to blend.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/eggs, along with the buttermilk. Mix on low speed, just until the batter comes together.

Spoon about 1/3 of the plum compote into the bottom of the greased cake pan. Pour the batter on top. Move the cake to the oven for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake, to loosen it. Flip the cake onto a serving plate or board. (If you greased the pan well, the plum compote shouldn’t stick. However, even if it does, it’s not the end of the world: scrape it off with a spatula, and arrange it on top.) Use a spatula to spread the remaining plum compote over the top of the cake. (See? No one will even notice the scraped bits!)

flour, nutmeg, cinnamonmixing wet into drycake, ready for the ovencake, out of the oven cake, out of the ovenplum cakeplum cake sliceplum cakeplum cakeplum cake slice


  1. Donna

    Wow Cristina, It looks so good I almost bit into my computer screen! (Too bad I didn’t pick up plums when I was at the market.


  2. Rae Paltiel

    Your site is gorgeous and the photos are scrumptious looking!! I’ve copied many of your recipes, and one day I will try them myself. They all sound delicious.
    (I’m a friend of your Mom’s from WL Legal.)

    • CristinaSciarra

      Thank you for your kind words, Rae! I hope you will try the recipes.

  3. Katie

    Hi Cristina,
    Have just found your beautiful blog thru Saveur. I am in Melbourne Australia, so plums are in season right now. Off to the farmers market this morning to get some and try out this recipe. It would be great if you could give measurements in grams- so much easier and more accurate for baking. I know in USA you use tablespoons/cups etc, but I bet at cordon bleu it was all metric! Just a suggestion.

    • CristinaSciarra

      Hi Katie, Summer! Such a distant memory here in New York right now. I actually just started including metric measurements to my baking recipes–see my most recent recipe for carrot cake. I want people from all over the world to be able to use the site, and I agree, metric is much more accurate for baking. Thanks for your note!

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