… back in Belleau for the long weekend and I am so utterly happy I can actually feel my bones relaxing. It’s been a bit of a wash-out summer here in the UK so any glimpse of sunshine and i’m out and in the great outdoors with gusto! It’s such strange weather that it feels like we’ve had the summer stolen from us by some kind of dodgy fraudster who’s replaced it with a really dreadful copy that everyone can see is a fake but we’re all ignoring because the alternative is so downright depressing. The plants and flowers seem to be having a wonderful time but quite frankly i’m cold… and it’s not even September yet. Being British of course we’re all being very ‘stiff-upper-lip’ about it and charging through with plans for picnics and garden parties without a care in the world… well, it wouldn’t quite be England if we actually complained now would it?
plum upside down cake
for many, the strawberry is the fruit of the summer and yes, I do love the strawberry for its tart sweetness and rosy pertness but now that it’s pretty much available all year round for me it has become something ordinary. Which is a shame and you can definitely tell when the British season is in full swing because those little berries taste better than they taste the rest of the year… for me however there is one fruit which symbolises the late summer and it feels all the more special for it and that’s the plum. We have some stunning plum varieties in the UK but my favourite and the one that I think has that wonderful late-summer taste is the classic Victoria. There’s something about its heady, almost musty perfume and deep, sweet plummy flavour that I adore… it may be the memory of them growing in my back garden as a kid, their sweet sticky sap such an attraction for wasps, or it may be the dusty deep reds, gold and purples of the colour that makes me love them so much… either way they are a dream baked on top of this glorious golden vanilla and lavender sponge. The lavender comes in gently from a lavender sugar I had made last year but forgotten about and works beautifully with the sweet juicy plums… a late summer classic but watch that bake, there’s a lot of juice from the fruit and this means my cake has dropped slightly, not that I mind, the flavours are all there in that gooey goodness…
225g golden lavender sugar
3 large free-range eggs
225g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 victoria plums – thickly sliced
butter and line the base and sides of a 21cm loose-bottomed cake tin then butter the base on top of the lining generously with butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar
lay the slices plums in concentric rings in the base of the cake tin
in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in one egg followed by one third of the flour, then beat in the second egg and another third of flour followed by beating in the third egg and the remains flour. I always add a dash of milk and the vanilla extract at this stage which I beat in
gently spoon the batter into the cake tin on top of the fruit and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven but check that it no longer wobbles before removing onto a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes… a note of warning – you may need to place a shallow tray on the shelf beneath the cake because the liquid from the plums tends to ooze out…
gently flip the cake tin over and remove the tin and base very carefully then allow to cool completely on the wire rack
eat and of course, enjoy!