the first time i ever had a plum was two years ago, in london. i was strolling down portobello road with one of my all-time heroes of photography, toby glanville, and he had just finished telling me that the secret to photography is that there is no secret, you just do it.
he had me practice at a little fruit stand. he said, here, go buy a plum from the nice old man and ask him if you can take his picture. i heard myself say ok as a fear of strangers and plums made me the most nervous nelly on the inside. when there was finally a plum in my hand and my camera on my face, two things came into focus: 1) the wife of the nice old man who was up in my grill, telling me that i couldn't take his picture even though he told me i could, and 2) the plum in my hand that had nowhere to go but my mouth.
if i took the photo of the man, it wasn't very good. and i suppose i considered putting the plum in my bag, but it just wouldn't have been worth the risk of it smashing all over my passport and half-eaten haribo roulettes... finally i scarfed it all down, got my hands super juicy, and then sadly didn't even pause to realize how good it was until all i had was the aftertaste, which was shortly thereafter washed away by a bowl of lentil soup from a stand across the sidewalk.
upon returning to brooklyn, i went through a plum cake phase that never *quite* yielded a plum cake to my liking. but recently i revisited those days by way of my new love for olive oil cakes, and i must say, i am pleased as a plum!
this cake is inspired by zwetschgenkuchen, maialino's olive oil cake, and the loaf cakes in the rose bakery cookbook that toby photographed. it's a moist little cake, perfect for a bit of dessert, an afternoon snack, or even as breakfast. if plums aren't your thing, it will happily work with peaches! (or you can even plop some grapes into the batter.) this recipe makes two cakes, so wrap one up and go make someone's day!
upside down plum and olive oil cake
makes two loaf cakes
6-8 medium plums, pitted and sliced
2 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 c olive oil*
1 1/4 c whole milk
3 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 tb lemon zest
2 tb lemon juice
6 tb champagne
*i've been using lucini olive oil, and subbing 1/3 cup for their lemon olive oil, which gives it an extra little somethin somethin
preheat oven to 350.
line two loaf pans (i use 10-inch by 3-inch) with parchment paper and spray them with cooking spray. cover the bottom with an even layer of plum slices.
in a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. in a large bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients. add the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
divide the batter between the two pans and bake. begin checking for doneness at about 30 minutes, and bake until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
let cool slightly in the pan and then use the parchment paper to carefully lift it out of the pan. invert onto a cooling rack.
serve with additional brown sugar for sprinkling on the plums.