What is a “pluot”?, you may well ask. It’s the Labradoodle of fruits. Actually it’s more like a Cockapoo or even a Maltipoo in size. The Pluot is a plum and apricot hybrid bred first in California in the 1800s. Initially it was called a Plumcot, which is the way most 50/50 hybrids get their names. However the original fruit was hard to grow. Then in the 1920s, another California nursery discovered that if you heavied up on the plum side of the equation, you got a more reliable fruit. They experimented for years finally trademarking the name Pluout in the 1990s. There are pluots of various sizes and colors. They’re no longer rare and the proof of that is that I got Andrew his pluots at Costco. According to Fine Cooking, originator of this recipe, you should look for pluots with a little ‘give’ and avoid any that are rock hard because they simply will not ripen. You may still want to ripen the fruit further by putting them in a paper bag and keeping them at room temperature for a day or two. Then you can make this wonderful upside down cake that pairs the fruit with almond flavor. Served with fresh whipped cream, the sweet juicy fruit is the star of the show and the cake a great supporting player.
Pluot Upside-Down Cake adapted from Fine Cooking
Andrew made this cake twice as he dissatisfied with the center of the first version. The second baked 10 minutes longer than the first and the problem was solved. Andrew claimed that this was a simple cake to make but the beauty of the perfectly-cut pluot wedges that top the cake wouldn’t make you think so. This is a great cake for right now when these stone fruits are at their peak. Here is the recipe:
Recipe for Pluot Upside Down Cake adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
Serves 8. Takes a little over an hour to make. Cool cake for an additional 20 minutes.
7-1/2 oz. (15 Tbs.) unsalted butter, 3 Tbs. melted, 12 Tbs. softened;
more for the pan
3 Tbs. demerara or other “raw” sugar
3 to 4 pluots, each cut into 16 wedges
6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract or paste
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment. Pour the melted butter into the pan and tilt to cover the bottom. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the bottom to cover.
3. Lay the pluot wedges over the bottom in snug concentric circles, starting from the edge. Set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined; the batter will be very thick.
5. Use a silicone spatula to spread the batter over the pluots, being careful not to move them. Smooth the top.
6. Bake until the cake is dark brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
7. Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a cake plate. Remove the cake pan and parchment, and let the cake cool completely before serving.