The French love using fruits in their desserts, and this plum tarte tatin recipe is no exception. In this recipe, instead of using pastry, we’re making a cake batter so that this actually becomes a cake tatin!
Plum Tarte Tatin Recipe
Like I mentioned, a tarte tatin is traditionally made with pastry dough. The word tatin refers to something baked upside-down.
Whether you’re making an apple tarte tatin or a banana tarte tatin, you’re usually caramelizing some fruit then pour the fruit into a baking tin. The pastry dough is then place over the fruit and the tin is set in the oven to bake until the pastry is golden.
Once the tart has finished baking, the tart is taken out of the oven and immediately flipped over onto a serving plate so that the pastry dough is not on the bottom and the fruit is resting on top.
In general, the French are big fans of incorporating fruit into their desserts. Whether it’s a custard that’s been topped with fruit or a cake tatin like this recipe, where the plums are embedded in the surface of the cake batter.
The great thing about a tarte tatin recipe is that you can use all sorts of fruit and really make the best of each season. This cake tatin version is no exception.
How to Make Plum Tarte Tatin
To make a plum tarte tatin, you’d normally place the plum halves on the bottom of your pan, pour caramel sauce over the plums, then place a round of pastry dough over the plums.
The tart would be baked just like I described earlier, then immediately flipped out onto a serving plate so that the plums are on top and the golden pastry is underneath.
This plum cake tatin is made in a similar fashion, but instead of using pastry dough, we whisk up a delicious cake batter.
The genius behind this method is that when you flip the dessert out of the pan, all the plum juices sink down into the cake and you get a deliciously sweet and moist cake full of plum juices.
The method is simple and the result is an incredibly delectable dessert.
The only tricky part of making this cake is getting the caramelized sugar right. The caramelized sugar gets poured over the halved plums that sit on the bottom of your pan.
This helps sweeten the fruit and act as a sort of adhesive to help the plums stay in place once the cake is flipped over.
Caramelizing sugar just requires a little water and sugar over high heat. The trick is not to take your eyes off the heated sugar for even a second, and to remove the sugar from the heat as soon as it turns a warm, amber color.
If you wait too long, it can very easily burn. Once you get this part down, the rest of this recipe is a piece of cake (no pun intended!), and totally worth the careful attention.
Please just take care to read the recipe notes at the bottom!
- 5 ripe purple plums or 10 small prune plums
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup sour cream (or 1/3 cup plain yogurt)
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Generously butter an 8 to 9-inch round dish (either a deep cake pan or a glass pyrex round dish). Rinse your plums before cutting each in half, removing the pits. Place the plums, flat side down, in your pie dish. Try to fit them in as neatly as you can without shoving in too many plums. Set aside.
- To a small saucepan, add 1/3 cup of water and 1 cup of the granulated sugar. Turn the heat onto medium high, allowing the mixture to come to a simmer. Do NOT stir the sugar mixture. Instead, swirl the mixture in the pan every so often. Do not take your eyes off the mixture; remove as soon as it turns a golden amber color.
- Evenly pour the amber sugar mixture over all of the plums. Let the liquid on the plums set. In the meanwhile, get started on your cake batter.
- Cream the unsalted butter and remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until fluffy. Add in the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla extract; mix just until combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, stopping the mixture as soon as the eggs are incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. With the mixer running on medium low speed, add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stop the mixer as soon as it's all blended in; you don't want to over mix the batter. Use a rubber spatula to scrape up any batter from the bottom and sides of the bowl and give the entire batter a good stir.
- Pour the cake batter onto the sugar-set plums, evenly spreading out the batter. Bake the cake at 325°F for about 35 to 40 minutes on the lower middle rack. Once it looks like the entire cake has pretty much set except for a small part in the center, increase the heat to 350°F to bake for another 5 minutes. You'll see the center begin to set and the top of the cake become golden. Test the cake with a toothpick inserted in the center, it should come out clean or with just a tiny crumb or two.
- Let the cake rest in its pan for 5 minutes. Place a very large piece of parchment paper or wax paper over a flat serving plate before flipping the cake out onto the paper. The juices of the plums will probably run down the sides of the cake, which is why it's good to use the sheet of paper underneath. After about 1/2 an hour or so when the cake's juices aren't so runny, you can slide the cake off the sheet and onto the plate, or just leave as is. This is also the point in which you can dust some powdered sugar on top of the cake if you like.
I make my cake in a 8.25" glass baking dish that is pretty
deep (deeper than a standard pie dish), therefore, I didn't have a problem with the
plum juices overflowing out of the pan as the cake baked. BUT, if you have a
standard 9 inch pan, or a pan with a bigger diameter that's not as deep, you might want to place your pan on top of a baking sheet while it bakes to prevent plum juices from dripping all over your oven floor. You also might need a couple more plums to cover the bottom of the pan.