This recipe is a little spin on the traditional tarte tatin and comes courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Instead of shortcrust pastry being used to cover the caramelised fruit, in this case plums, a small amount of cake batter is made – literally just enough to spread over the top of the fruit and then baked and inverted in the same way as a traditional tarte tatin. At first I thought it would be similar to an upside down cake but it really isn’t as there is more fruit than cake so it has the appearance and shallow depth of a tart but using cake batter instead of pastry – very clever really. The result is a wonderful cake that has all the wow factor of a tarte tatin but is simpler to make and very delicious; the caramelised juices from the fruit soaking into the dense batter make this cake very moreish. I served this for dessert with cinnamon ice cream and the leftovers were just as good eaten cold from the fridge the next day.
Ingredients Adapted from Ina Garten
90g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
6 to 8 plums, cut in half and pitted
1 ¾ cups caster sugar, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
⅓ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 180C. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish ( I used my Le Creuset cast iron tart tatin dish) and arrange the plums in the dish, cut side down. Combine 1 cup of the sugar and ⅓ cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber colour. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Pour evenly over the plums.
Meanwhile, cream the butter and the remaining ¾ cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined. Pour the cake batter evenly over the plums and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a plum sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature. Excellent accompanied by a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.