I first tasted blood plums at Boroondara Farmer’s Market in Hawthorn, Melbourne, about 10 years ago.
Every month I’d wander from stall to stall sampling local apple juice and honey and chatting to the stallholders about when to plant blueberries or how to preserve crab apples. My small children stood fidgeting and pulling on my sleeves, knowing that their reward for unusual patience would be a gourmet sausage in a bun.
One day a sample plate of sliced plums caught my attention. Deep crimson and oozing blood-red juice as if wounded in battle, these plums were very different from the yellow-centred ones I had grown up with.
Back at home, I made a blood plum upside down cake, based on a pineapple upside down cake recipe I had on file. With its glistening, sticky, purple juices that seeped jammily into the cake, the cake was a winner.
I decided then and there that one day I would have a blood plum tree of my own, and finally, in a different house in a different state, I now have two, a Satsuma and a Mariposa. I’m planning to make plum upside down cake for many summers to come.
- 20g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- 6-8 ripe blood plums, cut in half and stones removed
- ⅓ cup softened unsalted butter, extra
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup milk (only add if mixture is too thick; I usually leave it out)
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- Preheat oven to moderate (180 degrees C/160 fan-forced).
- Grease a 20 cm round cake tin and line base with baking paper.
- Pour melted butter over the base of the cake tin and tip to spread butter around. A pastry brush will help you to fill in any gaps.
- Sprinkle brown sugar as evenly as possible over butter.
- Place plum halves cut side down on top of brown sugar. Try to put them as close together as possible.
- Next, cream extra butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, then stir in sifted flour. if you have a stand mixer you can beat all cake ingredients together until pale and creamy; about 1-3 minutes depending on the mixer. Only add milk if mixture is too thick.
- Spread cake batter evenly over plums.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean.
- Leave cake to cook in tin for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and turn cake upside down onto a wire rack (that is, the bottom becomes the top).
- If the paper remains attached to the top of the cake, gently peel it off.