OK, first of all, plums are pretty.
So very preeeetty...
Second of all, they're in season. Third of all, I had this upside-down plum cake recipe calling my name. I downloaded this recipe years ago. Not sure where from. There are a lot like it floating around out there. So I decided to punch it up a little.
And now begins the story of the mascarpone cheese. I bought some this week. I saw it in the store. It said, "Hey lookit! I'm mascarpone cheese!" And I said, "I shall buy you, mascarpone and bring you home and eat you. What do you taste like anyway?" So I brought it home, opened it up, and lo it tasted like the creamy love child of crème fraîche and sweat socks. Those mascarpone lovers out there. I'm sorry. It wasn't what I was expecting by a long shot. So I resolved to use it up in the least offensive way possible. Adding it to the cake batter was an interesting test. Then I added the thyme. And then, O Frabjous Day! I learned you could add sugar to mascarpone. Oh. My. Stars. It might be the best frosting ever. Mascarpone, I'm sorry I ever doubted you. Please say you'll be my friend and frost my cakes forevermore. And we shall live
Plum Poppy seed Upside-down Cake with Thyme and Mascarpone
* 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
* 1/2 C mascarpone cheese
* 6 fresh purple plums, pitted, and each cut into 6 wedges
* 1-1/3 cups sugar
* 2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1 Tbs. poppy seeds
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 sprig thyme, chopped plus extra for garnish
1) Butter a 9x2 inch round cake pan, then dust with flour and tap out excess.
2) Heat 2 Tbs. butter in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
3) Add plums and 1/2 cup sugar. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until plums are just tender and sugar is completely melted.
4) Transfer fruit to a plate using a slotted spoon.
5) Reserve syrup in skillet, and let cool slightly.
6) Arrange plums, cut sides down, along bottom of prepared pan in concentric circles.
7) Boil reserved fruit syrup in skillet about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Pour syrup over plums, sprinkle with chopped thyme, and let cool completely.
8) Preheat oven to 350°.
9) Beat together remaining 1/2 cup butter, mascarpone, and 3/4 cup of remaining sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
10) Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
11) Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in poppy seeds.
12) With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour, and beat until just blended.
13) Using clean beaters and bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
14) Gradually beat in remaining 2 Tbs. sugar and continue to beat to stiff peaks.
15) Using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of whites into cake batter. Then fold in remaining whites just until blended.
16) Spread batter evenly over plums in prepared pan.
17) Bake 40-55 minutes at 350°, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.
18) Let cake cool completely in pan. Run a small knife around edge of pan, then invert cake onto a serving plate.
1/4 C mascarpone cheese
1/4 C powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Mix it all together until it's homogeneous. Eat it and don't stop until it's all gone! Nom! Or, you know, put it on the cake. Whatever.
Garnish with additional fresh thyme. (Don't skip this, it really adds a lot to the end flavor!)
Better on the second day, this one is a great make-ahead candidate. Also, you know how much I like almond flavoring. I may be testing that out next time in place of the vanilla in the cake and maybe the topping, too. I'm keeping this. It makes me happy...