Damson and Pear Upside-down Cake

This is my latest fall dessert: an upside-down cake I baked using the wonderful, local damson plums and the very last local pears I got from the farmstand.

The fruit don’t look like much, but they taste wonderful. I wish we had more…



You can use plums instead of the damsons, but choose small, not large an juicy because they would collapse in the sugar.

This cake is basically another riff on the Apple or Quince Charlotka, the light and easy fruit cake both Costas and I love!  As I posted this recipe I received the Newsletter from Dorie Greenspan with the recipe for a Parisian  upside-down plum cake. Maybe you would like to try that one too…


For a 10-inch round cake –or equivalent square


1 ¼ cup sugar


About 1 ½ pounds fruit: 8-10 damson or plums, halved, stones removed, and 4-5 small pears washed, halved to remove the pips, and thinly sliced (do not peel)


1 cup coarsely ground walnuts


2/3 cup ground cookies –I used my Grape Must Cookies, but any kind of cookies or Graham Crackers will do


1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


4 eggs


1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)


1 tablespoon vanilla essence


1 cup all-purpose flour



Caramelize the damsons: Heat on medium-high a deep, 10-11-inch non-stick skillet that can go into the oven adding 5 tablespoons sugar. Gently move the skillet as the sugar melts or stir with a spatula until the sugar caramelizes. Be careful not to let it get dark. Remove from the heat and wearing gloves and working fast lay the damsons, cut-side-down on the caramelized sugar –they don’t need to be perfectly arranged. Place again the skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until they start to sizzle. Remove from the heat and set aside.


Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F degrees (180 C).


Make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the eggs, the rest of the sugar and salt on medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.


Gradually add the flour into the egg mixture, and gently fold with a spatula until just combined and no flour streaks remain. The batter will be quite thick. Fold in the sliced pears.


Spread the walnuts and the ground cookies over the caramelized damsons, then pour the batter over the fruit in the skillet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.


Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out almost clean and the top of the cake is golden brown.


Let cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then gently run a knife around the perimeter to loosen and very carefully, wearing gloves,  invert the pan on a platter and let cool completely before cutting to serve.







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