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Using a 3-inch deep, 9-inch round pan to bake the cake gives it straight sides. If you prefer slightly flared sides on your cake, bake it in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, which streamlines the process in three ways. First, the skillet need not be buttered; second, the caramel topping can be prepared in it directly; and third, the total baking time is cut to 50 minutes, which is 10 to 15 minutes faster than with the cake pan.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3⁄4 cup light brown sugar
- 5 medium plums, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 1⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2⁄3 cup milk
- For topping: Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square or round, 3-inch deep cake pan. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat; add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is foamy and pale, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared pan; distribute evenly. Arrange the fruit over topping; set aside.
- For cake: Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Cream the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium speed. Gradually add one cup of the sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the yolks and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients and milk, alternately in 3 or 4 batches, until the batter is smooth.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in the large bowl at low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high; beat to soft peaks. Gradually add remaining two tablespoons of sugar; continue to beat into stiff peaks. Gently fold a quarter of the egg whites into the flour mixture. To soften the batter. Then ass remaining egg whites and fold in to just combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly on top of the fruit. Bake until top of the cake is golden and a toothpick comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.
- Rest cake on wire rack for two minutes. Slide a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a serving platter over the pan and hold tightly. Invert the cake onto the platter. Carefully remove the cake pan. If any fruit sticks to pan or falls off cake, carefully reposition.