Kate's Healthy Spiced Plum Upside Down Cake With Vanilla Custard

"Cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest enhance the flavor of plums. Applesauce is used in the cake batter instead of butter to counteract the use of butter in the Caramelized Plum Topping. Vanilla Custard adds a cool, creamy contrast to the warm Spiced Cake. This is not a super sweet dessert. Just sugary enough to satisfy your sweet tooth."
photo by Garden Gate Kate photo by Garden Gate Kate
photo by Garden Gate Kate
photo by Garden Gate Kate photo by Garden Gate Kate
Ready In:
1hr 20mins
1 Spiced Plum Upside Down Cake




  • HINT: The plums do not need to be ripe. Although my plums refused to ripen, they still baked up to be sweet and soft because the heat caramelized their natural sugars.
  • NOTE: Vanilla Custard should be made ahead of time and chilled in the refrigerator. Caramelized Plum Topping and Spiced Cake should be made right before serving.
  • CARAMELIZED PLUM TOPPING: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease sides only (not bottom) of 10 inch cast-iron skillet. If you do not have a cast-iron skillet, you can use a 10 inch cake pan or a 9" by 9" square pan. Set aside.
  • Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Stir in ½ cup brown sugar. Spread in bottom of prepared skillet or pan. Arrange plum slices slightly overlapping in a pretty spiral pattern working from outer rim to center. If using blueberries, arrange plum slices first, and then arrange one ring of blueberries around the outer rim of the pan. Arrange the remaining blueberries in a circle in the center of the pan filling in the gaps. Sprinkle a even layer of nuts over fruit. Set aside.
  • SPICED UPSIDE DOWN CAKE: In a medium bowl, sift together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat milk, applesauce, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest.
  • Stir flour mixture into egg mixture just until combined. Pour batter over fruit and nuts. Let rest for 5 minutes to allow baking powder to activate. Bake at 350F degrees for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven. Let rest for 5 minutes to allow cake to absorb juices. Invert onto a platter that is at least 12 inches in diameter. Use a platter with raised sides if you have one, so that the juices are not spilled and wasted. Do not pour off excess juices, the cake will absorb the juices as it cools. Serve warm topped with Vanilla Custard, vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream.
  • VANILLA CUSTARD: Mix 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, and salt in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, scraping corners of pan with spatula, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk at least half of hot mixture into egg yolks. Then, whisk back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla until you cannot smell alcohol. Pour into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on Vanilla Custard to prevent tough layer from forming. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until chilled.
  • NOTE: Leftover Spiced Plum Upside Down Cake and Vanilla Custard should be stored in the refrigerator and may be eaten warm or cold.

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<p>My grandfather did not speak or read a word of English when he moved to America from China at eleven years old. With a lot of hard work, he proudly became an US citizen and began his own Cantonese restaurant in Kingston, NY, from the ground up. He is not a trained chef but has a natural gift for combining unexpected flavors and ingredients into the most delicious dishes. Although the food on the menu is the absolute best Chinese food in the country, the really out-of-this-world dishes are the ones that he serves his family in the back of the restaurant. He doesn't read cookbooks or write down any of his recipes; all his creations are original. Growing up, I spent every summer with him eating these foods. Every morning, we would pick fresh vegetables from his garden that he would use to make the noon and evening meals with. He stuffed garden zucchini the size of my arm (of course, my arm was smaller then) with fresh lobster and shrimp. This is just one example of a simple summertime lunch for him. Without a doubt, his cooking is the greatest influence on my tastes in foods and my own recipes.</p>
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